Dr. Vamsi Chalasani

Consultant - Neurologist

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Dr. Vamsi Chalasani

Consultant - Neurologist

Manipal Hospitals, Vijayawada

Stroke: Understanding Risk Factors And Recognising Symptoms

Posted On: Aug 03, 2023

blogs read 5 Min Read

Risk Factors of Stroke

A stroke is a medical condition when the blood flow of the brain is interrupted, preventing the supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain tissues. Due to this, the brain cells start to die, resulting in brain damage and other major complications. A stroke is a life-threatening emergency and requires prompt treatment. Therefore, it is essential to understand the risk factors, causes and symptoms to reduce the chance and seek prompt medical treatment.  

WHO quoted on stroke that there are annually 15 million people suffer from stroke globally, out of those 5 million die and around 5 million suffer from physical disability.

What is stroke, its types and causes

A stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident or CVA is a critical condition that occurs when the blood flow of the brain is stopped or disrupted. This fatal situation most commonly occurred due to a block in the artery or bleeding in the brain. The interruption of blood flow carries a high risk of brain cell damage, resulting in disability or even death if immediate medical attention is not sought. In such cases, you can refer to the best neurologist in Vijayawada.

Ischemic and Haemorrhagic are the common two types of strokes. Data says, about 87% of the stroke case are ischemic due to blood clots in the arteries. If the blockage occurs locally in the brain, the condition is called thrombosis. It’s known as embolism if the blood clot travels to the other parts of the body.

Haemorrhagic stroke causes due to sudden bleeding in the brain. This happens when an artery of the brain breaks, leaks or ruptures. The brain starts to swell because of the leaked blood that raises the pressure in the brain resulting in damage to the brain cells.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Several factors can increase the risk of experiencing a stroke. While some of these risk factors can be controlled, others are beyond our control. Understanding these factors is crucial to take the preventive measures:

Factors that have the control

  • High blood pressure

  • Obesity or overweight

  • Physical inactivity

  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption

  • Poor diet and lifestyle

Other risk factors are based on lifestyle or habits:

  • Age: Age is a prominent risk factor. As we age, the risk of stroke significantly increases, especially after the age of 55-60.

  • High-stress level: Anxiety, depression, and excessive stress can lead one to a high-risk level of stroke. Visit the best neurology hospital in Vijayawada for a consultation with the top neurologists in town.

  • Family history: Heredity or genetics can be a prominent reason for developing a risk factor too. The risk of having a stroke is higher if a parent or any other family member had experienced a stroke in the past.

  • High Blood Pressure: Uncontrollable high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for strokes, as it weakens blood vessel walls and can lead to artery blockage.

  • Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of stroke due to the potential damage to blood vessels over time.

  • Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and increases the likelihood of blood clots.

  • High Cholesterol Levels: High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to the formation of plaque in blood vessels, potentially leading to a stroke.

  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib): AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can cause blood to pool and form clots, increasing the risk of strokes.

  • Race and Ethnicity: Certain ethnicities, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians, have a higher risk of stroke.

Recognising Stroke Symptoms

Recognising the signs of a stroke is critical for seeking immediate medical attention. The FAST acronym can help identify stroke symptoms:

1. Face Drooping: It is possible to feel one side of the face get numb or drop. Check the facial asymmetry by asking the person to smile.

2. Arm Weakness: One of the arms may feel weak or numb. Check if the person can raise both arms to see if one drifts downward or lost control.

3. Speech Difficulty: Slurred speech or trouble speaking coherently is a common symptom.

4. Time to Call Emergency: If you observe any of these signs, call emergency services immediately. Time is essential in treating strokes.

Unique Preventive Measures

There are many preventive measures one can take to reduce or lower the risk of having a stroke. Actions that you can consider are:

  • Improve the lifestyle: One can easily lower the risk of a stroke by improving the health and lifestyle. Connecting eating habits and sleeping patterns can help prevent a stroke.

  • Quitting tobacco: Research says that people who smoke are six times more likely to have a stroke compared to non-smokers. Quitting tobacco reduces the risk of having a stroke.

  • Mindfulness practices: Engaging in activities like yoga, meditation and other exercise help to manage stress and reduce stroke risk.

  • Social interaction: It’s very important to stay connected to your surroundings to stay active, which eventually helps to remove loneliness, stress and even the prone to depression. 

Strokes are a serious medical condition, but by understanding the risk factors and recognizing the symptoms promptly, we can take steps to minimize the likelihood of experiencing one. Embracing a healthy lifestyle, managing chronic conditions, and seeking regular medical check-ups are essential for stroke prevention. Remember, being proactive about your health is the key to a stroke-free future. Stay informed, and stay healthy!

FAQs on Stroke

Here are the frequently asked questions on Stroke:

Q1. What are the five major risk factors for a stroke?

A: The five major risk factors of stroke are the following-

  • Hypertension

  • Obesity or overweight

  • Poor diet or lifestyle

  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption

Q2. What is the early sign of a stroke?

A: Brain stroke is a critical condition that leads to major physical issues. However, some of its early signs are:

  • Feeling numbness in the face, arms and legs.

  • Facing difficulties in speaking or understanding speech.

  • Having trouble walking or being unable to balance.

  • Dizziness and loss of vision, strength and sensation.

Also, read the blog on Mini Stroke and know how o prevent it or what to do when you get a stroke.

Q3. Who is at high risk for stroke?

A: Though stroke is common among older adults, younger individuals too can experience it. It is more likely to occur in people who are at higher stress or such mental conditions.

Q4: What food helps to prevent strokes?

A: Foods that are high in potassium are good for the brain and can help prevent stroke:

  • Fruit and vegetables

  • Low-fat dairy

  • Whole grains

  • Fish.

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