Why knowing stroke risk factors is important

Why knowing stroke risk factors is important

While up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, stroke is still the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Stroke Association.

A study conducted at the University of California, Irvine, explored the connection between stroke prevention and stroke treatment. Researchers evaluated the records of 274 patients who had suffered ischemic stroke – those caused by a blockage within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Their results indicated that 76 percent of the patients showed some potential for preventability, and 26 percent showed high potential for preventability.

“The effectiveness of stroke treatment depends heavily on how fast the patient is treated when suffering a stroke,” says Dr. Tim Mikesell, neurologist on staff at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Prevention – the control and mitigation of risk factors before experiencing a stroke – is the earliest possible form of treatment available.”

Dr. Mark Fisher, an author of the study, suggested in a news release that a more holistic approach to the problem of stroke is necessary. Instead of only acting in response to a stroke, the importance of prevention should be stressed to help reduce the impact of stroke in the future.

To practice prevention, Dr. Mikesell recommends knowing the risk factors and doing what’s possible to reduce them.

Some risk factors for stroke include:

  • Hypertension
  • Atrial fibrillation (Afib)
  • An unhealthy diet
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Infrequent physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

Other risk factors for stroke cannot be controlled, but should be noted. The risk of stroke increases with age, and if a family member has had a stroke or heart attack at an early age. African Americans are also at increased risk, according to the National Stroke Association.

If you think you’re having a stroke or witnessing one, call 911 immediately. Use F.A.S.T. from the American Stroke Association to memorize the signs:

  • F – Face Drooping
  • A – Arm Weakness
  • S – Speech Difficulty
  • T – Time to Call 911

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  1. So what kind of stroke screening tests should a doctor be doing yearly on us????

  2. Hi Jay, thanks for your comment! I checked with a stroke coordinator at Advocate Illinois Masonic and, although there is no specific screening for stroke, seeing your doctor for an annual check-up can help control risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Managing those conditions and leading a healthy lifestyle can decrease your risk and help prevent stroke.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.