8 Unexpected Causes of Stroke | Quality Care ER

Stroke is a major cause of disability and death. Over 700,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke each year, and someone dies of one every four minutes. These statistics are alarming, but changes can be made. Strokes are preventable, or at least you can lower your chances of having one.

While it is impossible to predict when a stroke will happen, there are causes you should be aware of. A healthy lifestyle is the best prevention for major illness, and this is no exception. Some of the reasons a stroke occurs may surprise you.

High Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled high blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading preventable risk factor for strokes. More than 75 percent of sufferers have high blood pressure. However, it is treatable, and lowering your blood pressure can drastically lower your stroke risk.

When your blood runs through your arteries too forcefully, they stretch and small tears result. Scar tissue forms to repair the tears. This scar tissue traps substances that can lead to blockages and weakened arteries.

Causes of hypertension vary. Age is often a factor, and high blood pressure may not always be avoidable.

There are some ways you can reduce your risks.
• Eat a healthy diet
• Exercise regularly
• Manage stress
• Limit alcohol
• Take medicine as prescribed

Diabetes
Patients with diabetes are twice as likely as non-diabetics to suffer from a stroke. Approximately 20 percent of diabetic patients die from the event, making it one of the leading causes of death among diabetics. Management of symptoms can reduce risks.

Causes of hypertension vary. Age is often a factor, and high blood pressure may not always be avoidable.

There are some ways you can reduce your risks.
• Eat a healthy diet
• Exercise regularly
• Manage stress
• Limit alcohol
• Take medicine as prescribed

Diabetes
Patients with diabetes are twice as likely as non-diabetics to suffer from a stroke. Approximately 20 percent of diabetic patients die from the event, making it one of the leading causes of death among diabetics. Management of symptoms can reduce risks.

Diabetes cause sugars to build up in the blood. Consistently high blood sugar levels help plaque buildup inside blood vessels. The plaque can stick to blood vessel walls creating blockages that stop blood flow to the brain.

The most vital way to reduce risk in diabetics is to keep blood sugar within normal range. Blood sugar may be controlled by a combination of medicines, exercise, and a healthy diet. Sometimes, insulin shots are necessary.

Mini-Strokes and Warning Stroke Symptoms
Most of us think there is no way we could experience a dangerous medical event and ignore it. However, you may already have experienced stroke symptoms or a mini-stroke. A mini-stroke, or transient ischemic attack, may begin and end in less than two minutes. Since it resolves so quickly, many people don’t think it is an emergency.

Even if mini-stroke symptoms resolve right away, it is important to seek emergency help. It is common to have a stroke within a few days of a transient ischemic attack if nothing is done to prevent it.

The symptoms of a mini-stroke are often the same as stroke symptoms. They begin with no warning, and there is no guarantee how quickly they will resolve.

Common stroke symptoms include:
• Droopy face
• Slurred or garbled speech
• Weak or numb arms
• Balance and coordination problems
• Severe headache
• Confusion

Medications
Prescription medicines may put you at a higher risk for strokes. While the connection is not always clear, some medications have been related to higher risks.

Some prescriptions that have been linked to stroke include:
• Heartburn medicines
• Antidepressants
• Antipsychotics
• Pain medicines

Always discuss your prescription concerns with your doctor. Always take medication as recommended, and for as short of a time frame as possible. Learn about natural remedies to improve your health and discuss the benefits with your doctor.

Sleep Apnea
Many patients consider sleep apnea as a condition that only affects their sleep. However, men with moderate to severe sleep apnea are nearly three times as likely to have a stroke as non-sufferers. The increased risk is also present in women but to a lesser degree.

Sleep apnea is a group of conditions that causes interrupted breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea deprives the brain of oxygen and increases blood pressure. 8 out of 10 people with sleep apnea are never diagnosed.

Symptoms include:
• Loud snoring
• Gasping for breath
• Morning headaches
• Dry mouth and throat upon waking
• Broken sleep
• Nightmares about the inability to breathe
• High blood pressure
Treating snoring and sleep apnea can greatly reduce stroke risk.

Excess Weight
Being overweight or obese is a difficult condition to overcome. It complicates many health problems, but there is no magic pill to make the problem disappear. Weight loss can decrease your risk of stroke. If you suffer from the effects of carrying excess weight, you are not alone.

US Weight Statistics
• More than 1 in 3 adults are overweight
• More than 1 in 3 adults are obese
• 1 in 6 children (ages 2-19) is obese
• 1 in 13 adults suffers from extreme obesity
• Obesity is higher in women than men
• 1 in 11 adolescents (ages 12-19) suffer from extreme obesity

People who are overweight are at a 22 percent higher risk for an ischemic attack. Obesity increases the risk to 64 percent. The reason is likely because increased weight is related to every health condition that heightens your risks of stroke; including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Heavy Alcohol Use
Most people know that alcohol abuse is unhealthy. However, many are not aware it can increase stroke risk. People who drink during middle age increase risk by a third. Heavy drinkers also suffer from strokes at a younger age.

The link between alcohol and stroke is unclear. However, alcohol abuse also increases the instances of contributing factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Inactivity
Lack of physical activity is easy to overlook. However, adults who do not exercise regularly are at a 20 percent higher risk for stroke. The advantage is observed more in men than women. Symptoms of hypertension, stress, diabetes, and excess weight are all improved with exercise.

There are many dangerous conditions that lead to stroke. The good news is, you can reduce your risks. Adopting healthy habits improve physical and mental stressors leading to serious health issues. The same improvements that help you avoid serious heart and brain events also diminish symptoms of many other conditions.