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Stroke – Risk Factors

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Risk factors for stroke can be changed or not. Certain conditions can increase the risk of stroke. If these conditions can be kept under control, it may decrease the risk of stroke.

Risk factors that can be controlled are:

– High blood pressure (hypertension) is the second most important risk factor after age.

– Diabetes mellitus. About a quarter of people with diabetes die from stroke. This 2 diabetes increases the risk of stroke or due to problems with circulation that occurs in this disease.

– Increased level of cholesterol in the blood can lead to coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction, which in turn cause damage to heart muscle (myocardium), and this in turn may cause increased risk of stroke.

– Coronary artery disease, which can cause a heart attack and a stroke.

– Heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, endocarditis, heart valve disease, or cardiomyopathy.

– Smoking, including passive smoking.

– Physical inactivity.

– Obesity.

– Use of medications such as oral contraceptives – especially in women who smoke or who have had clotting disorders so far – and
anticoagulants or corticosteroids. It seems that women in menopause, hormone replacement therapy has a low risk of stroke.

– Increased consumption of alcohol. People who consume excessive alcohol, especially those with acute alcohol intoxication (drunkenness) have an increased risk of stroke.

– Use of cocaine or other illicit drugs.

Risk factors that can not be changed are:

– Age. The risk of stroke increases with age. The risk doubles with each decade after age 55. At least 66 percent of all people with stroke were age 65 years or more.

– Race. Blacks and Hispanic Americans have a higher risk than people of other races. Compared with whites, young black Americans, both women and men have a risk of 2 to 3 times more likely to develop ischemic stroke and to die because of this.

– Sex. Stroke is more common in men than in women up to age 75 years, but after this age women are affected. At all ages, more women than men die from a stroke.

– Family history. The risk of stroke is greater if a parent, brother or sister had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack.

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