Strokes are very common, but pose serious health complications. A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted, usually by a clot. Stroke prevention can include everything from staying active, eating right, quitting smoking and keeping blood pressure under control.
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While strokes usually occur in older adults with underlying medical conditions, they can also strike seemingly healthy young adults. Here are five reasons why younger, healthier people might be getting strokes:
1. Low Level of HDL Cholesterol
A recent study showed that while healthy patients and stroke patients all had similar total cholesterol levels, stroke patients had lower levels of good cholesterol, HDL. Most medical providers agree that good cholesterol lowers the risk of a stroke.
2. Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking puts you at a significantly increased risk of having a stroke. Smoking causes cardiovascular diseases that can cause stroke, no matter what age you are.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it can be done. Talk to your doctor about different ways to quit. He or she may recommend a support group, a nicotine gum or patch, medication or going cold turkey.
3. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can increase your risk of a stroke, even if you are young and otherwise healthy. That’s because high blood pressure can damage our blood vessels, causing dangerous narrowing, ruptures or leaks. High blood pressure can also create dangerous clots that can cause stroke.
Your doctor reads your blood pressure when you go in for a visit. If you’re found to have chronically high blood pressure, your healthcare provider may recommend diet and lifestyle changes. He or she may also prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure.
4. Using Oral Contraceptives
If you are a female smoker using birth control pills, then you carry an increased risk of stroke caused by blood clots. This is especially true if you are over the age of 35 and smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day.
If you cannot quit smoking, you should ask your doctor about other forms of birth control that may be safer for you.
5. Being a Man
The risk of stroke is higher for young men than it is for young women.
While there’s nothing you can do to erase this risk factor, there’s still plenty you can do to prevent a stroke, even if you’re quite young. Learn more about your cholesterol, take good care of yourself, quit smoking and get your blood pressure under control. If you’re a female smoker on oral contraceptives, try to stop smoking and chat with your doctor about other ways to prevent pregnancy or manage hormonal conditions in the meantime.
Studies are showing new therapies that could eventually mitigate the risk of having a stroke. In the meantime, being aware of these risk factors and changing your behavior to help reduce these risks and can play a huge part in preventing a stroke from happening.