Do You Have One of the Five Major Risk Factors for Stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted, which cuts off oxygen flowing to your brain and can result in the death of brain cells.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke, and every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked. This can happen for several reasons; however, physicians from McLaren are here to share the five major risk factors that can lead to a stroke.

  1. High blood pressure

Your heart carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body with every contraction of your heartbeat. The force of your blood traveling through your body in the blood vessels is your blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain, resulting in a stroke.

Learn more about what your blood pressure tells you about your heart health.

  1. High cholesterol

Prolonged or unmanaged high cholesterol can result in fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Over time, these deposits can grow and restrict blood flow to the brain.

“The largest concern we have with patients having high cholesterol is overtime the plaque build up can dislodge and form a clot that can cause a heart attack or stroke,” said Jayne Ward, DO, medical director of McLaren Greater Lansing’s Stroke Center.

  1. Obesity

Being overweight can cause extra stress to your heart and affect blood flow. Not to mention, obesity can also lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol.

“If I only stress one thing, it is that maintaining a healthy diet and getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day is the best way to avoid stroke and heart disease,” said Jasmeet Garcha, MD, primary care provider at McLaren Medical Group.

  1. Diabetes

Over time, high blood sugar due to unmanaged diabetes can damage larger blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart and brain. If your cerebral vessels are directly affected, this can lead to a stroke.

“It’s important if you have been diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes to make sure that you are testing your blood sugars regularly and staying within the recommended levels,” said Dr. Garcha. “If you are consistently running high blood sugars, it can impact more than your heart and brain, it can also cause permanent damage to your eyes, nerves, kidneys, and more.”

  1. Smoking

Smoking can have multiple effects on your body that can lead to stroke. First, smoking can raise the level of triglycerides in your body, which is a type of fat, and can lower good cholesterol. Smoking can also make your blood sticky and more likely to clot, which leads to decreased blood flow to the heart or brain.

May is American Stroke Month, and it’s important to know the risk factors of a stroke so you can work to prevent them. If you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke, get emergency treatment immediately. Click here to review signs and symptoms of a stroke.

To learn more about stroke care at McLaren Greater Lansing, click here.

To read more articles on health and wellness, click here.