Take Today’s Smart Steps Against the Dangers of Stroke

Take Today’s Smart Steps
Against the Dangers
of Stroke

In an instant, a stroke can change everything. Those in recovery often face formidable challenges even carrying out simple daily tasks. And the ways in which the effects of a stroke can touch one's life inevitably ripple out, affecting you and those closest to you the most deeply.

As we discuss stroke risk factors and how to maintain healthy blood pressure, we'll share some practical ideas about how to reduce your risk of stroke. So, you can hopefully prevent the condition from occurring in the first place.

nature of a stroke

⁣Interruption of the blood supply to the brain causes brain damage, and having a stroke is a serious medical emergency.

The most common symptoms of stroke are difficulties walking, speaking, and understanding, as well as face, arm, and leg paralysis or numbness.

Strokes can be caused by two main triggers: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or a blood vessel leaking or burst (hemorrhagic stroke). Occasionally, people experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), without any lasting effects.⁣

Ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing oxygen delivery to brain tissue.⁣

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when weakened blood vessels rupture. Aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are common causes of hemorrhagic strokes.⁣

Blood vessels in the brain can burst during a stroke, which is sometimes called a brain attack. Regardless of the cause, parts of the brain can be damaged or die.

A stroke can lead to permanent brain damage, long-term disability, or even death. Therefore, you want to get medical attention immediately if you notice a cluster of the following symptoms:

  1. Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, usually the face, arm, or leg.
  2. Having difficulty understanding or speaking.
  3. Dim vision or vision loss in one or both eyes.
  4. An inability to balance or coordinate or dizziness.
  5. Inability to move or walk normally.
  6. A fainting spell or seizure.

risk factors of stroke

⁣A stressful day won't necessarily affect your stroke risk, but chronic stress may increase probability. Further, stroke risk is significantly influenced by anxiety, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.⁣

There are some lifestyle habits and choices we can make to prevent strokes, but some factors, such as race, gender, and family history, cannot be controlled.⁣

Regardless, don't let the cards you're dealt determine your health and well-being. Managing your weight, blood sugar, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and managing stress all contribute to lowering your risk of stroke––and these are variables within your control.

Consider your current lifestyle and health status, and note that presenting with the following risk factors for stroke may warrant consulting a physician and tweaking your habits to prevent further injury:

  • High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure can cause the arteries supplying blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or become blocked, resulting in a stroke. A stroke causes brain cells to die due to a lack of oxygen.

    As a result of a stroke, you may experience serious difficulties speaking, moving, and performing other basic tasks.⁣

  • Heart disease: Heart disease increases risk of stroke in sufferers, with both conditions being a part of a group of cardiovascular diseases that impair your heart and blood vessels.

    Death, disability, and poor quality of life are often associated with heart disease and stroke. However, by reducing risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both diseases can often be prevented.⁣

  • Diabetes: A person with diabetes has difficulty processing food properly. The body's inability to make insulin or use insulin correctly causes glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood. A high glucose level can damage the body's blood vessels over time, increasing stroke risk.⁣

  • Smoking: Using nicotine products and smoking increases blood pressure and lowers oxygen levels in the blood, which doubles your stroke risk. Hypertension is a major cause of stroke. There are over 4,000 toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke that are deposited in the lungs or absorbed into the bloodstream, damaging the blood vessels.

  • Birth control pills (oral contraceptives): A high stroke risk is associated with combined oral contraceptives in patients who smoke, have high blood pressure, and suffer from migraine with aura.

    Pregnancy increases the risk of ischemic stroke. However, combined OCPs may reduce that risk.⁣

  • TIAs (transient ischemic attacks): The most common type of stroke, an ischemic stroke, has the same origin as a transient ischemic attack. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain.

    The blockage in a TIA is brief, unlike a stroke, and there is no permanent damage but could be indicative of poor vascular function and an environment more suitable for future instances of stroke.⁣

  • High red blood cell count: Clots are more likely to form when red blood cell counts are high. Because sickle cells stick to blood vessel walls, they can block arteries causing strokes.

  • High blood cholesterol and lipids: You can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels if you have high cholesterol. Over time, these deposits grow, preventing enough blood from passing through your arteries.

    Heart attacks and strokes are sometimes caused by sudden breaks in those deposits, forming clots.⁣

  • Lack of exercise: It is possible to reduce the risk of an initial or secondary stroke by moving more frequently––preventing artery clogging, maintaining a healthy heart, and lowering blood pressure.

    In a study, high levels of inactivity during leisure time were associated with an increased stroke risk of 20% to 25 percent, compared with those who performed high levels of physical activity. It was 15% higher when compared with those who performed moderate physical activity during their leisure time.⁣

  • Obesity: Overweight, obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, accelerated atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation, and obstructive sleep apnea all contribute to stroke risk.

    Eventually, atherosclerosis or thromboembolism may lead to arterial occlusion or rupture.

  • Excessive alcohol use: Strokes are associated with heavy alcohol consumption.

    The greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of stroke. There is no difference between ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes in this regard.⁣

  • Illegal drugs: Drug abuse increases the risk of ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage. Amphetamines, cocaine, and phencyclidine stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in elevated blood pressure and vasospasm––all increasing instances of vascular emergency.⁣

  • Abnormal heart rhythm: Heart arrhythmias can cause complications such as stroke, sudden death, and heart failure.

    Plus, patients with heart arrhythmias are at an increased risk of blood clots. And a clot that breaks loose in the heart may travel to the brain and cause a stroke.⁣

  • Cardiac structural abnormalities: Infective endocarditis, nonbacterial thrombotic endocarditis, and atrial myxoma are the main cardiac causes of cerebral embolism.

    AFib is the form of arrhythmia most closely associated with stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that AFib is the cause of approximately one out of every seven strokes and that strokes caused by AFib tend to be among the most damaging.

Smart steps to prevent stroke

Although some predetermined factors, like heredity and gender, affect the probability of experiencing a stroke, there are some simple, smart, and sustainable steps we can take daily to reduce our risk of vascular injury or related vascular emergencies.

Here are some best practices to consider when seeking to prevent stroke:

Commit to quit⁣

Within one year, your risk of heart attack and stroke is half that of a smoker. After quitting smoking, your chance of not having a stroke increases, and within 15 years you may have the same risk as non-smokers.

⁣⁣Get moving

Healthy eating, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are the most effective ways to help prevent strokes.

Plus, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of clogging your arteries with unhealthy fat (atherosclerosis).

Maintain a healthy blood pressure level⁣

A blood pressure reading over 180/120 mmHg is considered stroke-level, dangerously high, and requires immediate medical attention.

Hypertensive crises are medical emergencies. Heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening health problems can occur as a result.

⁣In summary, the American stroke guidelines align with the European hypertension guidelines and recommend a BP target of less than 140/90 mmHg as a primary prevention strategy.⁣

You can best preserve and improve the integrity of your vascular system by taking preventative measures while you are still young.

Mind your micronutrients

Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), and folate may lower homocysteine levels and reduce risk of stroke or heart attack.

Further, the incidence of a second stroke in patients who have had a first stroke is between seven and 10 percent per year.

Moreover, eating magnesium-rich foods can also help reduce the risk of strokes. According to a recent study, people decreased their risk of stroke by 8% for every 100 milligrams of magnesium they consumed per day.


Preventing high blood pressure, stroke, and other degenerative conditions requires careful awareness of many lifestyle and dietary factors. ⁣

Strokes can be prevented by eating healthy meals and snacks, containing plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Besides, you can lower your cholesterol by eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol and high in fiber––and also lower your blood pressure by limiting salt (sodium) in your diet.⁣

Plus, minding your micronutrients like vitamin B12 can prevent deficiencies that can increase homocysteine levels––a well-known risk factor for ischemic stroke.⁣

Make an inventory of your cupboards and everyday habits so you can improve your health markers to best support optimal vascular health and prevent avoidable and potentially devastating major medical emergencies.