Risk factor for Stroke

Risk factors are characteristics in a person that increase his chance of suffering a disease. Several risk factors have been associated with the occurrence of stroke. Risk factors are classified as being modifiable or non-modifiable.

Non-modifiable risk factors are those that are related to a person’s natural body processes that cannot be changed, like age, gender, race-ethnicity, and genetic makeup. There is currently no way of modifying any of these risk factors, but they may be important in terms of public health policies. For example, because the risk of stroke increases correspondingly with age, health initiatives may have to be focused on addressing issues related to an aging population.

Modifiable risk factors are important because changing them reduces a person’s risk of having a stroke (or a subsequent stroke). They are mainly due to lifestyle or underlying medical conditions that can be treated. Modifiable risk factors include high blood pressure, underlying heart disease (like atrial fibrillation or irregular non-synchronized beating of the heart chambers), high cholesterol level, diabetes, any amount of smoking, heavy alcohol intake, obesity, physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyle, and stress. A person with any of these risk factors is more likely to suffer a stroke than someone who does not. Furthermore, having more risk factors means having an even higher risk of suffering a stroke.

Stroke risk factors are link to just that – risk or probability or chance of having a stroke. Everyone has a baseline risk of having a stroke and modifying risk factors would only reduce that risk, probability or chance. It does not eliminate it completely. That is why young, active, or apparently healthy persons may still have a stroke


Prevention of Stroke

The cornerstone of stroke prevention is to identify and modify risk factors to reduce the chance of suffering a first stroke or a recurrent stroke. This is something that a person who never had a stroke can do, but also what a stroke patients should work on closely with his doctor. A few simple and inexpensive habits can help prevent a person from having a stroke:

  • Regular medical checkups. Know your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
  • If you are prescribed medicines for high BP, heart disease, diabetes, or previous stroke, take them regularly.
  • If you smoke, stop completely.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. Do not drink more than 2 bottles of beer, 2 jiggers of whiskey, or 2 glasses of wine per day.
  • Perform regular physical activity. Do moderate intensity exercise like brisk walking for 20 to 30 minutes daily. For those who are medically unable to do so, any physical activity will still be beneficial than none.