According to the CDC, someone in the United States suffers from a stroke about every 40 seconds. This means that by the time you’re done reading this, approximately five people will have had a stroke.

With stroke being the fifth leading cause of death for Americans and a leading cause of serious long-term disability, it’s vital to understand your or a loved one’s risk of stroke in order to start taking action to prevent one.

Here we will explore both the unavoidable and avoidable factors that lead to stroke, as well as what signs signal a potential stroke occurring.

Unavoidable Factors

There are various factors that increase the likelihood of stroke that cannot be avoided no matter how much an individual tries. These factors include, but are not limited to:

Heredity: The occurrence of a family member having a stroke can be a red flag that others in the family are at greater risk of suffering one as well. With genes being passed along, traits can be inherited that increase the likelihood of a stroke, along with genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease that can cause strokes. According to the CDC, “people with a family history of stroke are also likely to share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.”

Age: With the risk of having a stroke more than doubling each decade after the age of 55, it’s vital to pay even closer attention to yourself or a loved one as age increases.

Gender: Each year in the United States, 55,000 more women have a stroke than men. This pattern can more than likely be traced back to medical occurrences that may take place throughout the course of a woman’s life such as birth control pills, pregnancy, or post-menopausal hormone therapy.

Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA’s): TIA’s are smaller strokes that typically exhibit similar symptoms, but leave no lasting damage. These “warning” strokes can often serve to foreshadow that someone is perhaps at risk for a larger, more detrimental stroke.

Avoidable Factors

While there are some unavoidable factors, take comfort in that you or a loved one can take actions to limit your chances with other contributing factors. These include:

High Blood Pressure: Also known as hypertension, this is the most potent risk factor that contributes to strokes — a two-to four-fold increase in the likelihood to be exact. While high blood pressure can be hereditary, individuals can take actions to lower it.

Cigarette Smoking: The chemicals in cigarettes (nicotine and carbon monoxide) have proved to correlate directly with the deterioration of a healthy cardiovascular system. Quitting smoking will also decrease the chances of lung disease, heart disease, and a number of cancers.

Heart/Artery Diseases and Disorders: Diseases or disorders that have a direct impact on the health of the heart or blood flow instantly increase the chances of a stroke. Keeping these in check will help lower your risk factor.

Inactivity and Obesity: Hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease all come along with inactivity and obesity. Staying active and eating healthy will go a long way in preventing a stroke.

Signs of a Stroke

It’s imperative to be familiar with the signs of a stroke occurring so that you can take action and limit the impact it has. According to the CDC, these are some common warning signs and symptoms of a stroke:

– Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg — especially on one side of the body
– Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
– Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
– Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
– Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Strokes can happen to anyone regardless of age, so it’s important to always limit the avoidable factors in order to decrease your or a loved one’s chances of stroke. In the event that a stroke does occur, keep in mind the signs so that you can recognize it and take swift action.

At Bluebird Homecare, our entire staff is trained to recognize and manage the risks of strokes through our in-home care. Contact us today to see how we can help!