A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency where an individual experiences brain damage caused by a lack of blood supply to parts of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when one of the blood vessels in the brain ruptures and begins to bleed into the brain tissues. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage occurs from a clot or embolus lodged in a blood vessel in the brain. Symptoms include facial numbness and weakness, trouble speaking, confusion, balance loss, coordination loss, sudden severe headache, vision issues, and difficulty walking.
Patients will need emergency stroke treatment. In many cases, this will involve emergency intravenous medication. Surgery for strokes is also quite common. Patients are often prescribed drugs for stroke recovery and medicine to prevent a stroke. They will also seek out the best supplements for stroke recovery, often as part of an herbal remedy for a stroke. However, the best treatments vary depending on the underlying cause. Get familiar with the common causes and risk factors for a stroke now.
Being Overweight Or Obese
An individual is at a significantly higher risk of having a stroke by being overweight or obese due to several stroke-promoting mechanisms. Being overweight or obese is associated with a diet high in fat and sugar. This type of diet causes metabolic disorders to be more prevalent among overweight or obese individuals. Excess adipose tissue tends to release toxic substances into the bloodstream and body that cause extensive inflammation. Inflammation is a critical key to the formation of plaque inside of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. High blood sugar is also a key contributor to inflammation in the body.
Overweight or obese individuals have a higher total blood volume than those who have a healthy body mass index. This is because more blood is needed to supply the extra adipose tissues in the body. High blood volume causes high blood pressure, which also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and other factors that can result in both an ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Overweight or obese individuals are at an increased risk of a stroke due to the combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inflammation.
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Lack Of Physical Activity
An individual who lacks physical activity in their regular routine is at a higher risk of experiencing a stroke than individuals who are more physically active. Exercising daily provides significant health benefits. Aerobic exercise is known to help increase the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is the beneficial type of cholesterol. The more high-density lipoprotein cholesterol an individual has in their body, the less low-density lipoprotein cholesterol they will have. A decrease in the level of bad cholesterol results in a reduction of an individual's stroke risk.
Exercising regularly is also known to lower blood sugar, which helps prevent insulin resistance and diabetes. Metabolic disorders like diabetes cause weight gain and increased blood pressure. Furthermore, exercising for a minimum of 150 minutes every week helps eliminate any excess fatty tissue. Adipose tissue causes an increase in blood pressure and inflammation, which both contribute to an increased risk of having a stroke.
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Chronic High Blood Pressure
One of the most prevalent increased risk factors of a stroke in the general population is chronic high blood pressure. High blood pressure describes a higher than average amount of force blood is putting on the blood vessel walls as it moves through them. While the blood vessels in the body are designed to be adaptive to high blood pressure, they can only adapt to a certain extent. Beyond the ability of the blood vessels to stretch and accommodate high blood pressure, the inner vessel walls begin to split, tear, and incur damage.
After an extended period of high blood pressure, numerous artery walls become damaged. This damage to the lining of the arteries or the endothelium allows toxic and harmful substances to enter the vessel walls. Once these substances enter the wall of the arteries, they solidify and accumulate. This condition is referred to as cardiovascular disease or atherosclerosis. Plaque buildup in an artery in the brain can restrict blood flow and cause a stroke. A stray clump of plaque can also become lodged in an artery in the brain and result in a stroke.
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An individual is at a greater risk of experiencing a stroke when they have high levels of certain plaque-promoting substances in their body, like high cholesterol. High cholesterol refers to when an individual has a large amount of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in their body. This harmful cholesterol gravitates to the areas where the individual has damage in their blood vessel and lodges itself in the blood vessel walls in the vulnerable areas. The individual's immune system senses the harmful substance and sends an influx of immune components to the site to encapsulate or trap the substance.
However, the reaction between the white blood cells and the cholesterol is not helpful. This is because it triggers the proliferation of muscle cells on the interior lining of the artery that develops a cap over it. High cholesterol in the body can allow this process to occur in dozens of blood vessels. Quick spikes of high blood pressure or another form of impact can result in the rupture of the plaque cap, releasing the hardened clump of cholesterol into the bloodstream. The plaque can then travel to the individual's brain and become lodged in an artery, causing a stroke.
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The presence of cardiovascular disease can cause an individual to be at a significantly higher risk of experiencing a stroke than someone healthy. Cardiovascular disease refers to a group of conditions characterized by the partial blockage or narrowing of blood vessels. The most common cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis. This is the inappropriate and excessive accumulation of plaque on the inside lining of the blood vessels. Atherosclerosis causes the walls of the arteries to become stiff and inflexible. A lower quantity of blood can flow through stiff and hard blood vessels, making the heart work harder and blood pressure increase.
A stroke can occur when one of the main arteries that supply brain tissues has an excessive plaque accumulation to the point where no blood can flow through it. This restriction of blood flow causes damage to the brain tissues and is referred to as an ischemic stroke. Another way atherosclerosis can cause a stroke is when a piece of the plaque breaks from its origination point, travels through the bloodstream, and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain. This obstruction of blood flow is also referred to as an ischemic stroke.
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A major risk factor for a hemorrhagic stroke is the overuse of anticoagulants. This type of stroke is the result of a blood vessel breaking or leaking in the brain. Anticoagulants are medications that thin the blood, which can result in bleeding in the brain and a hemorrhagic stroke. This is why patients who take anticoagulants must be closely monitored. In fact, they must be monitored quite closely if they are taking this medication to lower their risk of blood clots, which can trigger an ischemic stroke. Patients should always follow their doctor’s directions for taking this kind of medication.
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An aneurysm is a dangerous cause of a stroke. This is a condition involving a bulging blood vessel in the brain. If an aneurysm leaks or ruptures, it will cause bleeding in the brain, which is also referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke. In most cases, a rupture in an aneurysm will happen between the thin tissues surrounding the brain and the brain itself. Doctors often call this form of stroke a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Patients who experience symptoms such as double vision, vision changes, pain around one eye, or numbness on one side of their face, should contact their doctor. These are signs of an unruptured aneurysm. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of an unruptured aneurysm are essential for preventing a stroke.
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Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy
Individuals dealing with cerebral amyloid angiopathy are at a higher risk of experiencing a stroke, specifically, a hemorrhagic stroke. Doctors may also call the stroke that results from this an intracerebral hemorrhage. Amyloid angiopathy involves a buildup of amyloid in blood vessels in the brain. These are protein fragments. In most cases, this condition is linked to several types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. However, the accumulation of amyloid can also have a negative impact on an individual’s blood vessels. Specifically, it can weaken them and increase the risk of bleeding in the brain. This is why a hemorrhagic stroke can occur due to cerebral amyloid angiopathy.
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Diabetes is a condition in which a patient’s body cannot use insulin effectively (type 2) or produces little to no insulin (type 1). This condition increases an individual’s risk of experiencing a stroke in several ways. Many of these ways are due to other risk factors. For instance, many individuals with diabetes are overweight or obese. They often also have high blood pressure. Both of these elements of diabetes also increase an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease, which is yet another risk factor for a stroke. Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes. However, there is treatment available. Patients must follow their diabetes treatment closely to minimize their increased risk of experiencing a stroke.
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Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is another condition that can increase an individual’s risk of experiencing a stroke. This condition is a sleep disorder in which a patient stops and starts breathing multiple times throughout the night. In obstructive sleep apnea, this happens because the patient’s throat muscles relax too much. Symptoms of this condition include snoring, headaches in the morning, insomnia, gasping for air at night, and dry mouth in the morning. Patients with this form of sleep apnea can often also have other risk factors for a stroke, which is why sleep apnea also increases this risk. Examples include being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.