Anyone can have a stroke. But if you have any of these risk factors, you need to pay close attention:
Family history. If you have a parent or sibling who suffered a stroke, you’re at higher risk. In fact, this past March the largest study ever conducted on strokes uncovered 22 new genetic risk factors, tripling the number of genes known to affect stroke risk.
High blood pressure. This is the single highest risk factor for stroke, increasing chances four to six times. In fact, high blood pressure can cause a stroke directly, and also contributes to other high-risk conditions such as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis. This disease process, also called hardening of the arteries, narrows the coronary arteries of the heart, which can lead to heart attack. But it also narrows arteries elsewhere in the body, including the brain, setting the stage for a stroke-causing blood clot.
Smoking. People who smoke have double the risk of an ischemic stroke and quadruple the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to develop underlying cardiovascular disease. Nearly 80 percent of diabetics eventually die of a clot-related complication, usually either heart attack or stroke.
Abnormal cholesterol levels. High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and high triglycerides all contribute to stroke risk.
Obesity. High amounts of belly fat, especially abdominal fat, raise the chance of stroke.
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