9 Factors That Can Lead to a Stroke

Factors leading to a stroke


A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, resulting in damage to the brain tissue. When deprived of oxygen and nutrients, which causes physical deficits in the area of the brain that is affected.

Knowing health conditions that can cause a stroke can help a person identify underlying risk factors and aid in early diagnosis and possible preventive treatment options.

9 Health Conditions that Could Increase Your Risk of Stroke

1. Blood Disorders:

Abnormal levels of cholesterol or lipids in the bloodstream can cause fatty plaques to form on artery walls. This can lead to blood clots and stroke. People with sickle cell anemia or other conditions that increase levels of red blood cells have a higher risk for stroke. This is because their blood is more likely to clot. Those who have inherited conditions like thrombophilia or hemophilia may be at a higher risk for stroke.



2. Diabetes:

High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage the walls of your arteries and make them more prone to narrowing. People with diabetes are at greater risk of stroke because there is an increased likelihood of a buildup of cholesterol and other fatty substances in the artery walls. This leads to the obstruction of blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. If your diabetes is not well-controlled, you may be more likely to experience high blood pressure and obesity, which also increases your risk for a stroke.



3. Drug and alcohol abuse: Drug use increases the risk of stroke in several ways. For example, drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can contribute to causing a stroke. Substances like heroin, alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine can all cause damage to blood vessels and increase the chance of a stroke.



4. Family history: If your family has a history of strokes, your risk is likely to be higher.



5. High blood pressure: High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke. A high blood pressure reading occurs when the force of your blood pushes too high against your artery walls. Over time, this extra force can damage and weaken your arteries, increasing your risk for a stroke. High blood pressure makes it more likely that fatty material will build up in the arteries and increase the risk of a stroke. If high blood pressure is left untreated, it will greatly increase the chances of having a stroke or other heart-related problems.



6. Heart Disease: A stroke can occur when the arteries that carry blood to the brain become blocked or narrowed due to plaque buildup. Heart disease can also cause other conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes, which all can lead to a stroke. When this happens, oxygen and nutrients cannot reach that area of the brain, causing it to become damaged and eventually die. Depending on where in the brain the stroke occurs, it can lead to long-term disability, paralysis, or even death.



7. Overweight: Being overweight and suffering from obesity is associated with many health risks and conditions that can lead to a stroke. This includes high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea.



8. Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of physical activity has been linked to an increased risk of developing stroke or heart disease. Studies have found that physically inactive people are more likely to experience high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and adverse changes in cholesterol levels. It also decreases the elasticity of arteries. This all contributes to an increased risk of stroke.



9. Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes or other forms of tobacco can increase your risk for stroke. This is because it damages and narrows the internal carotid arteries that supply blood to your brain.

This narrows the passageway for oxygen-rich blood to reach the brain, which increases the risk of a clot forming. When this happens, it can cause a stroke. Smoking is also associated with high blood pressure.



Other risk factors associated with non-traumatic strokes include high cholesterol levels, uncontrolled diabetes, and hypertension.

If you think you or a loved one may be at risk of a stroke, take our Stroke Assessment and find a doctor near you. 

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Complete the CHRISTUS Health Stroke Assessment to receive a report with your stroke risk factors and tips on reducing those risks.

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