Who is at risk?
A number of different factors increase the risk of stroke, including:
- Untreated high blood pressure (hypertension). This damages the walls of the arteries.
- Diet. A diet high in salt is linked to high blood pressure, while a diet high in fatty, sugary foods is linked to furring and narrowing of the arteries.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, and so are at much higher of stroke.
- A previous TIA. Around one in five people who have a first full stroke have had one or more previous TIAs.
- Atrial fibrillation. This type of irregular heartbeat increases the risk of blood clots forming in the heart, which may then dislodge and travel to the brain.
- Smoking. This has a number of adverse effects on the arteries and is linked to higher blood pressure.
- Regular heavy drinking. Over time this raises blood pressures, while an alcohol binge can raise blood pressure to dangerously high levels and may trigger a burst blood vessel in the brain.
- Certain types of oral contraceptive pill. These can make the blood stickier and more likely to clot. They may also raise blood pressure.
Risk factors that cannot be controlled
Age. Strokes are more common in people over 55, and the incidence continues to rise with age. This may be because atherosclerosis takes a long time to develop and arteries become less elastic with age, increasing the risk of high blood pressure.
- Gender. Men are at a higher risk of stroke than women, especially under the age of 65.
- Family history. Having a close relative with a stroke increases the risk, possibly because factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes tend to run in families.
Early rehabilitation is crucial. Every stoke survivor must seek rehabilitation treatment as soon as possible. More »