Top 10 Factors: Are You Putting Yourself at Risk for Stroke?

Prevent a Stroke

Stroke is the leading cause of premature death and disability in North America. A Canadian scientist has documented the 10 main risk factors said to account for 90% of strokes that occur. While stroke is a serious and potentially deadly health affliction, knowing this vital information makes prevention much easier.

Dr. Martin O’Donnell of McMaster University assessed the data of 24,000 people from 30 countries and compared their risk factors of stroke over a four-year period. Study results were presented recently at the World Congress of Cardiology in Australia. Here, the risk factors to note!

Top 10 Factors  Which Put You At The Risk of Stroke

1. High blood pressure

It is caused by eating foods high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat and calories is the No. 1 avoidable risk factor attributed to the development of stroke.

2. Elevated blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides

From a diet high in sugar, saturated fat, calories, junk food and take-out food. Surprise, surprise!

3. Lack of Physical Activity

The distinct lack of regular physical activity is a leading cause of stoke in many populations.

4. Smoking

It keeps rearing its ugly head in the development of various vascular diseases like atherosclerosis that can permanently damage your brain, heart, kidneys, eyes and extremities. This is one of the most preventable causes for chronic disease, premature death and stroke, too.

5. Waist to Hip Ratio

The relationship between your waist circumference and that of your hips can work against you. This waist to hip ratio indicates the degree of weight gain you have accumulated around your abdomen, often the result of poor diet and low levels of physical activity.

6. High levels of blood sugar

Insulin and inflammation which rapidly cause diseased arteries can readily set you up for an unexpected stroke. Watch your blood sugar, and control it with balanced eating and exercise.

7. Excessive alcohol

Its intake accounts for an increased risk of vascular disease of the brain. But there is one exception to the rule: Red wine in moderation can decrease your risk of stroke, so if you feel you need to have a drink with dinner, that glass of red wine won’t hurt.

8. Diabetes

If you or a family member has a previous history of diabetes, this can put you at risk for a stroke, too. Not surprisingly, diabetes has a genetic component, meaning if a close family member has it, your risk factor is higher. Discuss this with your doctor, given diabetes puts you at a higher risk for stroke.

9. Heart Disease

Another genetic problem that puts you at risk is heart disease. Several types of heart disease are risk factors for stroke. Likewise, a stroke is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. They share many of the same risk factors, so if you get checked for one, it is best to get checked for both.

10. Psychological stress

Lifestyle interventions like stress-reduction techniques, including exercise and healthy eating, can play an important role in ensuring your risk level for stroke stays low.

Whether you are altering your diet, lifestyle, cutting back on drinking or lowering your stress levels, it is important you take proper care of yourself and discuss your potential for stroke with your health care practitioner. Knowledge is power!

O’Riordan, M., “INTERSTROKE: Global Study Finds 10 Risk Factors Explain Almost 90% of Stroke Risk,” Medscape website, May 23, 2014;