Stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack”, is the fifth leading cause of death in men & a leading cause of long-term disability. It is indeed more likely in men over the age of 65, but can happen at any age. Strokes are also more likely to be fatal and strike earlier in men than in women.
The good news is that up to 80% of strokes can be prevented. This means it is important to know what puts you at a risk of having a stroke and taking action to improve your odds.
CONTROLLABLE RISK FACTORS
- High blood pressure is a main risk factor for stroke
- Smoking damages blood vessels, which can cause a stroke.
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Being inactive
UNCONTROLLABLE RISK FACTORS
- Age is the principal nonmodifiable risk factor for this disease.
- Gender (Men have more strokes)
- Family history
Your doctor can assess your risk for stroke and help you control your risk factors, therefore regular check-ups are important in catching problems before they become serious.
Most strokes can be prevented by keeping medical conditions under control and making lifestyle changes. Know your ABCs of heart health:
Activity: Stay active. Living a sedentary or inactive lifestyle has consistently been one of the top five risk factors for heart disease.
Blood Pressure: Control your blood pressure.
Cholesterol: Manage your cholesterol.
Smoking: Quit smoking or don’t start.
- Eat healthy and stay active. Choose healthy foods most of the time, including foods with less salt to lower your blood pressure.
- Get regular exercise. Being overweight or obese raises your risk of stroke.
- Get other health conditions under control, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Strokes come on suddenly and should be treated as medical emergencies. The American Heart Association uses the memory tool known as F.A.S.T. to recognize signs of stroke. If you think you or someone else may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.:
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, get to an emergency room right away. When it comes to stroke, every minute counts.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Stroke Fact Sheet