It is thought that there are up to 1.2 million stroke survivors currently living in the UK, whilst the care of people that have suffered a stroke continues to cost both the NHS and the economy billions of pounds every year.
But what causes a stroke and is there anything to be done to minimise the risk?
Unpreventable factors that can increase the likelihood of a stroke
Unfortunately there are some factors that are linked to strokes that you simply can’t do anything about. They include:
The chance of having a stroke doubles with every decade after you turn 55. A quarter of all strokes happen to younger people, but you’re more likely to suffer a stroke after the age of 55 – 65.
If there is a history of strokes in your family, this increases your risk of having one in the future. The fact strokes run in families is usually down to a genetic tendency to get high blood pressure or diabetes.
Men and more likely to suffer a stroke, however, when women do so it is usually later in life, which can increase the chances of the stoke being fatal.
The risk of stroke is higher among southern Asians, Africans or people from the Caribbean, in part due to higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in these groups.
Preventable factors that may cause a stroke
To understand the preventable factors that can cause a stroke, you first need to know the different types of stroke and how they occur.
The most common type of stroke, ischaemic strokes, occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of both blood and oxygen to the brain.
Typically these blood clots develop where arteries are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits. A variety of factors can accelerate the natural narrowing of the arteries that occurs as you age. These include:
The smoke from cigarettes, as well as second-hand smoke from others, may cause a fatty build-up in your main neck artery, as well as thickening your blood and making it more likely to clot.
High blood pressure
Often called hypertension, this is the biggest cause of strokes. Blood pressure of 140/90 indicates high blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2, whilst 180/120 is classed as a hypertensive crisis. A crisis requires immediate attention from a doctor.
If you are overweight, this greatly increases your chance of having a stroke.
Having too much cholesterol in your blood can increase the number of fatty deposits that build up in your arteries. This will cause them to narrow and become stiff, reducing the flow of blood in the process.
If you have diabetes you will more likely be overweight and have high blood pressure, both of which increase your chances of having a stroke. It also damages your blood vessels.
Excessive alcohol intake
Too much drinking has been linked with the aging of the arteries, causing arterial stiffness in men and has also been linked to an increased chance of heart disease.
These are commonly termed cerebral haemorrhages and are less common than ischaemic strokes. They happen when a blood vessel within the skull bursts and bleeds around the brain as well as into it.
In most instances, they are caused by high blood pressure.
High blood pressure
Often this can cause the arteries in the brain to become weak which in turn makes them more prone to splitting or rupturing.
High blood pressure is most often caused by:
– Lack of exercise
– Stress – although this may only be temporary in very stressful periods
– Excessive alcohol intake
At Cera, we provide tailored home and live-in care for those that have suffered a stroke. This could include home help and companionship as well as more-complex healthcare support. You can learn more about the care that we provide or contact us today to arrange an initial consultation for your loved one with a member of our care team. Call us on: 0333 455 3659.