A stroke can have many causes, but 90% of events are attributed to a few specific issues. People with high blood pressure are twice as likely as people with regular blood pressure to experiencing a stroke. Others factors, such as alcohol and drug consumption, can also influence the risk of stroke.
High Blood Pressure
In addition to regular high blood pressure or hypertension being a prominent cause of stroke, the issue often precedes or follows events with other causes, as well. High blood pressure can damage the arteries, which increases the likelihood of clogging. The weakening of arteries in the brain increases the chance of stroke. High blood pressure also increases the risk of having a heart attack. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure.
Both physical and psychological factors play a role in health and well-being. Stress is often linked to increases in the risk of stroke. Studies show people who are impatient or aggressive, like those with a type A personality, are more likely to experience a stroke than those better able to handle high-stress situations. Some reports claim chronic stress can significantly increase the risk of stroke and it also increases the likelihood of heart attacks. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help alleviate stress.
Multiple studies indicate people who experience depression are more likely to have a stroke, and this may even increase the chance of dying from the event. Though doctors are not sure if the mental health condition causes stroke directly, many support the connection between the two. The physical effects of depression are getting more scientific attention recently, and the condition has also been linked to chronic fatigue and muscle pain, insomnia, and heart disease.
Hardened arteries and atrial fibrillation, as well as other cardiac issues, can increase the chances of developing stroke. Moreover, stroke is a risk factor for conditions such as coronary heart disease. High blood pressure, low levels of HDL cholesterol, and smoking all contribute to both stroke and heart disease. In general, people who have had a heart attack or coronary heart disease are twice as likely to have a stroke as people who had not.
Drinking too much alcohol poses various significant health risks including an increased chance of stroke. Alcohol contributes to many other factors that raise one’s risk of strokes, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. In general, alcohol is considered the fourth most common cause of preventable death in the U.S.
Bad Cholesterol Levels
Much medical evidence supports the link between high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and stroke. Cholesterol is a waxy fat that the body produces naturally and also absorbs from foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy products. Diets high in saturated fats increase the amount of unhealthy cholesterol the body absorbs. If this cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, it can increase the risk of stroke.
A lackluster diet can lead to a higher chance of stroke. According to the American Heart Association, healthy eating can reduce various risk factors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and excess weight. A healthy diet should include multiple daily servings of vegetables and fruit, as well as lean meats, fish, some grains, healthy oils, nuts, and seeds. The Mediterranean diet is a good example of a healthy diet, and research found that this particular diet can help prevent stroke or other cardiovascular conditions. Adequate sleep and exercise can also help reduce the risk of stroke.
Lack of Exercise
People who are regularly physically active — ideally raising their heart rate at least three times a week — are less likely to have a stroke. Even light activities such as walking, cycling, and swimming can contribute significantly to reducing the risk of stroke.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential factor for general good health. Obesity is one of the leading causes of stroke. Today in the United States, almost 70% of adults are overweight or have obesity. Treating the condition through healthy weight loss techniques can reduce the risk of stroke. Diet, exercise, improving sleep, and stress management can help reduce weight, and doctors and nutritionists can recommend other methods — such as surgery — for people with severe obesity.
There is a strong correlation between smoking and stroke. Overall, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults dropped in the past 15 years, but there are still 38 million Americans who currently smoke, according to Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The chemicals in tobacco and cigarettes exacerbate stroke risk factors such as deteriorating lung health. Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of death.