Stroke: Preventing Causes & Risk Factors

What are risk factors for a stroke and what can be the causes and triggers of a stroke? In principle, anyone can suffer a stroke/apoplexy and thus typical stroke symptoms at any time. However, some risk factors can be consciously controlled and switched off, thus reducing your own risk of stroke. Reveals the causes and risk factors of a stroke and gives practical tips on stroke prevention.

Causes of stroke / apoplexy

How does a stroke occur? A stroke can be caused by two things:

  • Circulatory disorder in the brain (= ischemic stroke)

Occurrence: 80 to 85 percent of all strokes
If blood vessels are blocked by arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), blood circulation can be interrupted and, as a result, areas of the brain can no longer be supplied with oxygen. As a result, undersupplied brain cells can die off within a few minutes and cause severe stroke consequences.

Cerebral haemorrhage (= hemorrhagic stroke)

Occurrence: 15 to 20 percent of all strokes.
Bleeding into the brain can be triggered by head injuries (for example during exercise or after a fall) or by a rupture of an artery (for example in the case of an aneurysm). Damaged vessels from high blood pressure or vascular malformations can promote cerebral hemorrhage.

Stroke risk factors

Basically, a stroke meets everyone at any time, but some risk factors can favor a stroke/apoplexy. The good news is: You can turn off or lower some of these risk factors to reduce your own stroke risk by up to 70 percent.

The 5 most common risk factors for stroke

Smoking, alcohol, stress, an unhealthy diet, and too little exercise areas with other diseases in old age – risk factors that favor a stroke. Medicine has formulated a total of five common risk factors that can cause a stroke:

The five most common risk factors for stroke are:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. High cholesterol
  3. smoking
  4. Overweight & sedentary lifestyle

Other risk factors for stroke

  • age

Two-stroke risk factors cannot be influenced by any of us: age and gender. The fact is that the risk of apoplexy increases sharply with age. More than 80 percent of all stroke patients are older than 60 years. Therefore, stroke is one of the most common diseases in old age.

Women are on average 75 years old when they suffer a stroke, men are significantly younger at around 68 years.

  • gender

Strokes are more common in women than men. Of the average of 260,000 strokes per year, 55 percent affect women – and the trend is rising. In addition, the consequences of a stroke. Such as the need for long-term care, are far more serious for women than for men, as they suffer more severe strokes than men.

But why are women more likely to have a stroke than men? Pregnancy can increase the risk of a stroke, and hormonal contraceptive therapies (such as the birth control pill) can also encourage the formation of blood clots. Medical professionals also point out that there is a stronger association between migraines and stroke in women than in men.

  • Inherited bleeding disorders

Another risk of a stroke/apoplexy over which one has no influence is inherited blood clotting disorders, in which, for example, the blood platelets clump together or cracks occur in the vessels supplying the brain. These can trigger a circulatory disorder or cerebral hemorrhage.

  • Heart disease

Inherited risks or heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation are definitely among the risk factors that you cannot influence at all or only very slightly. It is all the more important that you take medical advice here, carry out therapies conscientiously and influence your living conditions as positively as possible.

Preventing a stroke: is it possible? And if so, how?

The causes of apoplexy or stroke can be quickly identified by a doctor’s stroke diagnosis – and in some cases (regardless of age, gender, and inheritable risk factors) avoided. The five most common causes of stroke mentioned above can be treated well: high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise.

Preventing a Stroke – 5 Tips for Stroke Preventio
  1. High blood pressur

In the long run, high blood pressure damages the vessel walls and promotes the development of hardening of the arteries (so-called arteriosclerosis) or narrowing in the arteries (so-called stenoses). It is therefore useful for stroke prophylaxis if you check your blood pressure regularly so that you can take countermeasures in good time if necessary.

The normal blood pressure values ​​according to WHO

Systolic value (mmHg)Diagnostic4. Smoking value (mmHg)
Optimal blood pressure<120<80
Normal blood pressure120 – 12980-84
High to normal blood pressure130-13985-89
Mild Hypertension (Level 1)140-15990-99
Medium hypertension (level 2)160-179100-109
Severe hypertension (level 3)from 180from 110

If you are outside of these normal values, you should speak to the treating doctor as soon as possible about a possible therapy to reduce your personal risk of stroke.

2. Cholesterol

Cholesterol, i.e. blood lipid levels, play a major role in the development of arteriosclerosis – and are therefore often jointly responsible for ischemic apoplexy. Cholesterol is deposited on the vessel walls. Can constrict them or be carried away by the bloodstream then get stuck in smaller cerebral arteries and thus trigger a stroke/apoplexy.

Doctors assume that the risk of stroke increases slightly with cholesterol (blood fat) levels of more than 200 mg/dl (5.2 mmol / l). This is especially true when your HDL cholesterol is low and your LDL cholesterol is high.

3. Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is also a common risk factor for developing a stroke. Diabetes attacks the vascular walls and can lead to a circulatory disorder and thus trigger a stroke. The right diabetes treatment is, therefore, a good preventive measure against a stroke and can prevent apoplexy. The normal blood sugar level on an empty stomach is between 60 and 100 mg/dl blood (corresponds to 3.3 to 6.1 mmol / l.

4. Smoking

Smoking damages the blood vessels and is a risk factor that can be completely ruled out with the right will and sufficient motivation. Smoking increases the risk of a stroke three times in women and 1.7 times in men.

5. Obesity & sedentary lifestyle

ToToo little exercise and being overweight are not only a problem for joints. They also increase the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. If you already integrate around 20 minutes of small exercise units into your everyday life four times a week. You can lower your personal risk of stroke and lose weight.

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