Describe 'Risk Factors For Strokes' here

n light of recent events I am compelled to post some things I have learned in my classes at HealthSouth Rehab Center I am taking while recovering from my second stroke.  A stroke is sudden when it strikes.  However, there is a long and progressive path prior to that strike that is entirely preventable.  It's called "Risk Factors".   Although I know this was not the primary reason for RonP's death, but his cause of death is listed as a stroke and needs to be addressed (there were other factors leading up to the stroke).  Also Richoso's stroke too.


The number one risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure.  The buildup of arterial pressure means the heart is working more, and small blood vessels are holding back the flow of blood, building up pressure behind them.  Plus there's extra wear and tear on the blood vessels that causes weakening.  And, it can accelerate atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The Age Factor

High blood pressure can be regulated.  You are in control.  However, there are risk factors you cannot control.  Aging is one of them.  As you age, your arteries become more fragile.  They are less elastic and flexible.  They become brittle.  Hardening of the arteries is called atherosclerosis.  The more buildup of atherosclerosis, the more likely these arteries are to clog or close off.  If this occurs in the brain, it will result in a stroke.

Diabetes Complications

At first glance you think there's no connection; diabetes controls sugar.  But, there is one powerful , and dangerous, connection - diabetes can affect circulation, and poor circulation can affect blood vessels, especially the small capillaries in the eyes.  Because of weakened, impaired blood vessels, diabetes can cause hemorrhages and blindness.  Likewise, similar hemorrhages in the brain can cause paralysis and death.  These reasons make diabetes a risk factor for stroke, but there's more:

     A person with diabetes is up to three times as likely to have a stroke.

     Studies have found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hypertension than those without

     Another study found that 42% of people who have strokes also have diabetes

     The combination of hypertension and diabetes is much more common among African Americans and Hispanics

     Diabetics are much more prone to obesity and high chlolesterol levels

Like aging there is little we can do to prevent inherited diabetes.  But we can control it through medication, diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.

Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body manufactures and it's natural and necessary for many of our functions.  But there can be too much of a good thing.  We manufacture cholesterol and it's also found in many of the foods we eat, such as steak and eggs.  And saturated fats found in such foods as meat, cheese, milk fat, shortening and even margarine contribute even more to higher blood cholesterol levels than does dietary intake of cholesterol.  

Cholesterol is carried in the bloodstream by lipoproteins, a "shopping cart" substance of fat and protein produced by the liver.  The lipoprotein that does most of the work is Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.  Once the body takes what it needs, the LDL is still floating around.  Eventually this floating LDL cholesterol settles on the artery walls, clogging passageways or causing clots that could break off and travel to the brain.  This is why LDL cholesterol is called 'bad cholesterol".

But LDL does not travel alone.  There is "good cholesterol" called High Density Lipoprotein, or HDL.  HDL carries cholesterol back to the liver for processing and elimination.  HDL suctions up the cholesterol left by the LDL and helps clear the arteries.

Controlling LDL levels in the bloodstream reduces risk of stroke; by lowering LDL by 23% to 42% you can reduce your risk of stroke by 29%.  Know your cholesterol levels and follow doctor's orders and medications.

Heart Disease History

Blood clots can form in the heart and travel to the brain; this is known as atrial fibrillation caused by irregular beats of the heart.  Also damaged valves can form clots around them, and a previous heart attack may form clots also, ready to send them to the brain and cause a stroke. 

The Ills Of Tobacco


    damages the walls of the arteries over the long term

    narrows the small blood passageways in the brain

    reduces the amount of nourishing oxygen in the blood

    affects circulation

Smoking doubles the risk of having a stroke.  If you smoke, stop.  Period.  Your life depends on it.  Take Chantix, cold turkey, substitute something, hypnosis, whatever.  I smoked from age 5 to age 55.  I quit 4 years ago.  Do ya think I might have caused this myself? The vote should be 100% yes.  

Taking Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills have helped give birth to women's rights.  However, oral contraceptives, especially when the woman is over age 30, has a history of hypertension, and smokes is at a far greater risk for stroke.  

These are the major risk factors that cause strokes.  And, other than hereditary factors, all are preventable.  The first step is to go see your doctor.  If you don't have one, get one.  Get a checkup.  Get your blood tested.  Find out exactly where you stand with your risk factors, and take the doctor's advice on the things you need to do to eliminate these factors from affecting your life; take medications, Rest, Exercise, Diet (R.E.D.), do what the doctor tells you to do.  If you smoke - STOP.  I did, two packs a day for 50 years.  If I can, you can too, the only person stopping you is yourself.  

I don't want you to be taking hours to type this instead of minutes like I've had to because you've had a stroke too, or you're paralysed on one side or another.  Smoking meat is supposed to be fun, keep it that way by taking good care of yourself; don't mess up like I did.