Communication Matters

10 Stroke Factors and How to Reduce Your Risk

man with stroke FB timelineStroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in adults, and the fifth leading cause of death in America. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. will experience a stroke, and nearly 800,000 Americans will have a stroke this year alone.

Below are 10 common health factors that attribute to having a stroke and how to reduce your risk of experiencing one:

  1. Hypertension
    Linked to 48% of stroke-related incidents
    Hypertension is the single most modifiable risk factor. Make sure to have your blood pressure regularly checked!
  2. Physical Inactivity
    Linked to 36% of stroke-related incidents
    Not getting enough physical activity can lead to other health conditions that can raise the risk of stroke. These health conditions include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Studies have shown that regular exercise such as walking can significantly lower your risk of stroke!
  3. Lipids/Blood Fats
    Linked to 27% of stroke-related incidents
    Your doctor can run blood tests to check your cholesterol levels and make recommendations based on the results.
  4. Poor Diet
    Linked to 23% of stroke-related incidents
    Studies have linked foods containing high levels of saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol stroke and related conditions, such as heart disease. Also, too much sodium (salt) can raise blood pressure levels.
  5. Obesity 
    Linked to 18% of stroke-related incidents
    Obesity is the excess of body fat, which causes higher “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.
  6. Smoking
    Linked to 12% of stroke-related incidents
    Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk for stroke. The nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure, and the carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.
  7. Heart Disease
    Linked to 9% of stroke-related incidents
    People with coronary heart disease, angina or who have had a heart attack due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are more than twice as likely to experience a stroke.
  8. Alcohol Intake
    Linked to 6% of stroke-related incidents
    Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and the risk for stroke. It also increases levels of triglycerides, a form of fat in your blood that can harden your arteries.
  9. Stress
    Linked to 6% of stroke-related incidents
    Long-term stress elevates the “stress hormone” called cortisol. Cortisol increases blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of stroke.
  10. Diabetes
    Linked to 4% of stroke-related incidents
    When your oxygen supply is cut off, other arteries can usually serve as a bypass. But if you have diabetes, those vessels may be hardened or clogged with plaque – a condition known as atherosclerosis – making it harder for blood to get to your brain.

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. Recognition of stroke and rapidly getting to a hospital will more likely lead to a better recovery.

  • Face – Ask the person to smile; if one side of the face is crooked or drooping, the person may be having a stroke.
  • Arms – Ask the person to lift both arms; if the person has difficulty raising one arm, the person may be having a stroke.
  • Speech – Ask the person to talk; if there is slurred speech or the person is unable to speak, he/she may be having a stroke.
  • Time – If the person is having any of the signs noted above, call 9-1-1 immediately. Time is crucial in stroke treatment and recovery.

Northeast Ohio Adults Communicating Together (NEO-ACT) is a one-of-a-kind program developed by Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center for adults with communication disorders related to stroke, injury or illness. The program is designed to provide individuals with communication difficulties (and their caregivers) an opportunity to improve quality of life through participation in activities that provide enrichment for listening, speaking, reading, writing, and socialization. 

For caregiver tips and information visit our blog Daily Victories

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