On average a person dies from a stroke every four minutes. It accounts for one in nineteen deaths. That’s just the ones that kill. 795,000 people will have a stroke and one in four have already had at least one stroke. That’s a very good reason to know the risk factors.
Desk Jockey: Those who have sedentary lifestyles are at risk for strokes. It doesn’t matter what the fitness level is. It doesn’t matter if you work out every day. The more you sit the more likely you are to have a stroke. The solution is to get up and move around several times a day. It’s wise to keep sitting to less than six hours.
Estrogen: Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can do a number of things. Some are good; preventing unwanted pregnancies and relieving the problems of menopausal women. Some are bad. There is a 29% increase of stroke rates in women who tool estrogen in HRT. Birth control pills may or may not increase stroke risk. The good news is that these figures go down when therapy stops.
Smoking: Both smoking and second hand smoke can do nasty things to the circulatory system. It thickens blood, making it easier for a clot to form. It can harden arteries. It also damages blood vessels in the brain which increases stroke risk.
Stress: This seems like a sure thing in stroke risk, but proving a link has been difficult. However, some studies show a link. In one study, men who had a physical reaction to stress were 72% more likely to have a stroke. A Japanese study showed that men who were under a lot of stress in demanding jobs and little control over actions were more likely to have a stroke.
Not every risk factor is something we can do anything about. A family history of stroke is one. Age, gender and race also are risk factors. Those who are over age 65 at increased risk. Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are also at higher risk.
Gender’s role is a little difficult to explain. It is true that more women have strokes than men. However, that seems to be because women live longer than men rather than that a stroke is gender related.
Strokes are a major cause of disability in the U.S. It costs the economy $36.5 billion dollars in medical care and missed work. A few lifestyle changes could save your life.