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All about the stroke different stroke types ischemic stroke thrombotic stroke embolic stroke transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke hemorrhagic stroke intracerebral hemorrhage subarachnoid hemorrhage causes of stroke stroke symptoms stroke risk factors diagnosis of stroke treatment for stroke stroke medications stroke prevention surgical treatments for stroke recovery from stroke stroke rehabilitation

What are the risk factors for a stroke?

High blood pressure (hypertension) does not cause any symptoms, so everyone over the age of 40 should have an annual blood pressure check. High blood pressure has no warning signs, so regular blood pressure checks are important. The

condition can be easily and successfully controlled with medication.

Atherosclerosis is also called "hardening of the arteries." Cholesterol plaque and other fatty substances build up on the inner walls of arteries, causing them to narrow. Pieces of plaque from deposits on the inner walls of arteries can break off and travel throughout the body. They can cause a stroke if they block blood flow to the brain. Atherosclerosis can be especially dangerous if it affects the arteries in the neck, called the carotid arteries, because any clots that might break off will not have far to travel before reaching the brain.

Cigarette smoking has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, artery disease in the legs, and lung cancer. Nicotine raises blood pressure, carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry to the brain, and cigarette smoke makes the blood thicker and more likely to clot. It is never too late to give up smoking.

Irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation) is fairly common in old age, and increases the risk of stroke by causing blood clots to form in the heart. Blood clots can be prevented from forming by taking warfarin, a medicine that makes the blood less likely to clot. Warfarin treatment requires careful monitoring with regular blood checks and is a very effective way to reduce the risk of stroke.

Diabetes affects 1 in 20 older people, and can also increase the risk of having a stroke. Good control of diabetes is important and requires attention to diet, regular urine tests or blood tests, and probably some medication.

Too much alcohol increases the risk of a stroke. The recommended 'safe' limits for alcohol consumption are 21 units each week for women and 28 units each week for men. One unit of alcohol is equivalent to a measure of spirits, or a glass of wine, or half a pint of beer. People who drink more than this run a higher risk of stroke, liver disease and dementia.

In most age groups except older adults, stroke is more common in men than in women. However, it kills more women than men, regardless of ethnic groups. Women may have a higher risk for hemorrhagic strokes than men (although this risk is not consistent in all countries). It is not clear why women have a higher mortality rate from stroke. In one study comparing men and women with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), the risk for stroke in women appeared to be higher with less blockage in the blood vessels. Another study also reported that women had a higher risk for fatal strokes after heart surgery. The arteries that lead to the brain may be more vulnerable to the effects of plaque buildup in women than in men.

All minority groups, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans, face a significantly higher risk for stroke and stroke death than Caucasians. The risk is also higher in Asian Americans, although some evidence reports a marked decline in incidence in this group over the past decades. The differences in risk among all groups diminish as people age. The greatest disparity in risk occurs in young adults. Middle aged African-Americans are two to three times more likely to experience a stroke than their Caucasian peers and four times more likely to die from stroke. (They also face a higher risk for death from heart disease.)

Obesity may increase the risk for both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke independently of other risk factors that often co-exist with excess weight, including insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood pressure, and unhealthy cholesterol level. Weight that is centered around the abdomen (the so-called apple shape) has a particularly high association with stroke, as it does for heart disease, in comparison to weight distributed around hips (pear-shape).

More information on the stroke

What is a stroke? - Stroke (cerebrovascular accident) is a sudden loss of consciousness resulting when the rupture or occlusion of a blood vessel leads to oxygen lack in the brain.
What're the different types of strokes? - There are two main types of stroke. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding.
What is ischemic stroke? - Ischemic stroke is the most common type. Ischemic stroke can further be divided into two main types: thrombotic and embolic.
What is a thrombotic stroke? - Thrombotic strokes are strokes caused by a thrombus (blood clot) that develops in the arteries supplying blood to the brain.
What is an embolic stroke? - Embolic strokes often result from heart disease or heart surgery and occur rapidly and without any warning signs.
What's transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke? - A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is often called a mini stroke. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a transient stroke that lasts only a few minutes.
What is hemorrhagic stroke? - In hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain itself or between the brain and the skull (subarachnoid hemorrhage) disrupts brain function.
What is an intracerebral hemorrhage? - Intracerebral hemorrhage is usually caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), and bleeding occurs suddenly and rapidly.
What is a subarachnoid hemorrhage? - Subarachnoid hemorrhage results when bleeding occurs between the brain and the meninges in the subarachnoid space.
What causes a stroke? - Stroke caused by damage to blood vessels in the brain. The ischemic stroke is usually caused by atherosclerosis (hardening) of blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of a stroke? - The symptoms of a stroke depend on what part of the brain and how much of the brain tissue is affected. Stroke symptoms usually come on suddenly.
What are the risk factors for a stroke? - Risk factors for a stroke include high blood pressure (hypertension), atherosclerosis, cigarette smoking, atrial fibrillation, diabetes.
How is a stroke diagnosed? - Stroke is diagnosed through several techniques: a short neurological examination, blood tests, CT scans or MRI scans, Doppler ultrasound, and arteriography.
What's the treatment for a stroke? - The aim of the therapy is to minimise the size of the stroke and therefore minimise subsequent disability by restoring blood flow to the area of the brain affected quickly.
What medications can be used for stroke treatment? - Intravenous thrombolytics. clot-busting, or thrombolytic drugs are now administered intravenously for ischemic (not hemorrhagic) stroke.
What can be done to prevent a stroke? - Prevention of stoke is an important public health concern. Medication or drug therapy is the most common method of stroke prevention.
What're the surgical treatments for stroke? - Surgical treatments for stroke include carotid endarterectomy, angioplasty, clipping. Clipping involves clamping off the aneurysm.
How to recover from a stroke? - Spontaneous recovery accounts for most improvements in the first month after a stroke. Successful recovery after a stroke depends on the extent of brain damage.
What is stroke rehabilitation? - Stroke rehabilitation is the process by which patients with disabling strokes undergo treatment to help them return to normal life.
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