A stroke damages a person’s brain and can damage their life. Knowing the risk factors might save your life. McLeod Neurologist Timothy Hagen, DO, lists those elements of your life that can put you at risk for a stroke and which ones you can and should control.
Here is a summary of Dr. Hagen’s remarks:
The major risk factors, particularity in this region, appear to be hypertension, smoking and diabetes, as well as age, genetics and cholesterol.
There are two categories for stroke risk factors. Some things you can modify and others risk factors you can’t control. You can’t change your parents. So, if stroke runs in your family, you are going to have a higher risk for stroke.
I like the saying, “Know your numbers.” Is your cholesterol under control? Is your blood pressure under control? Is your diabetes under control? If they’re not controlled, you are opening the door to a stroke.
If you have a high risk because your family has a history of stroke, you don’t want to be the one who smokes. You want to make sure that you’ve done everything you can to reduce that risk of having a stroke.
One of the things that I like to tell patients is that if you address your diet, you will address your blood pressure. We use the MINDFUL diet, a blend of the Mediterranean Diet and the Dash Diet. The Dash Diet reduces blood pressure. The Mediterranean Diet may improve the flexibility of your blood vessels. Studies show that it also reduces the risk for Alzheimer’s. If you address your diet, you could reduce the risk significantly for both stroke and Alzheimer’s.
When you talk about stroke in women, there are some more unique risk factors. If you’re pregnant, high blood pressure is called preeclampsia or eclampsia. This will put you at higher risk for having stroke. When you’re pregnant, it’s important to monitor your blood pressure,
Women also face increased risk if they have a history of migraines. Add migraine plus smoking plus high blood pressure, you are dramatically increasing your risk of stroke.
Studies show that if you get to the hospital in time to get the clot buster medication, you can reduce your disabilities by 30%. Patients can expect to see the greatest recovery in the first six to eight weeks. Over the course of the next six to eight weeks the brain starts to recover and the brain function starts to improve in most patients. This combination of brain recovery and the ability to compensate though therapy helps patients return to a more normal life.