The natural, genetic and modifiable risk factors for stroke
There are certain risk factors for stroke that cannot be changed. These risk factors for stroke stem from unchangeable processes like aging, family history, sex and medical history.
Health Canada states that the chance of having a stroke doubles for every decade after 55. Strokes can happen at any stage in life, but most only happen after 65. Looking out for the other risk factors for stroke in old age is important.
Age also influences the sex-related risk factors for stroke. For most of their lives men are at greater risk for a stroke than women, until women reach approximately 55 or reach menopause. After this point, it has been found that women are more likely to have a stroke than men.
Genetics play a role in the risk factors for stroke. Your risk of having a stroke increases if a close family member, namely your parents but even extending to your siblings, had a stroke before the age of 65. You may then be genetically predisposed to having a stroke. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, people of First Nations, African and South Asian descent are more likely to have have genes that increase their risk of having high blood pressure, which therefore increases their risk of having a stroke.
Finally, medical history is another one of the unchangeable risk factors for stroke. Having had a previous stroke or a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) in the past increases your chances of having another stroke.
More importantly, there are risk factors for stroke that you can address. Being able to identify the risk factors for stroke in your life that are modifiable and then doing something about it can improve your health and diminish the chances of a stroke occurring.
Of all risk factors for stroke, hypertension is number one. As blood pressure increases, plaque builds up within the walls of your arteries that could break off and form blood clots.
If you’re smoking, stop. High cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, heart disease are other risk factors for stroke that contribute to the buildup of this plaque and the development of hypertension. They might also strain your arteries to the point where the ones in your brain literally burst, which clearly obstructs that essential blood flow, leading to a stroke.
Hypertension has no symptoms until serious health problems occur, so check your blood pressure regularly. Exercise is the best way to treat hypertension and the other risk factors for stroke, but you should talk to your doctor before you devise a fitness regime. Quitting smoking and eating heart-healthy are also extremely beneficial. Daily stress also increases blood pressure and is therefore another one of the risk factors for stroke, so working to reduce stress can really improve your health.
Being able to identify your natural risk factors for stroke, and addressing the ones you can do something about is essential to living a longer, healthier life.