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Stroke: Risk factors

Stroke: Risk factors Besides age, several factors influence how muchyou are at a risk of stroke. Some of them relate to a genetic predisposition and need monitoring, but others have to do with lifestyle and can be changed. What can you do about it? What puts you in danger The Department of Health recommends a maximum daily alcohol intake of 3-4 } units for Smoking It is estimated that i in 10 strokes is due to smoking. Smoking causes arteries to fur up, increasing the likelihood of a blood clot. A person smoking 2o cigarettes a day has 6 times the risk of stroke of a non-smoker. Poor diet Eating an unhealthy diet high in saturated fat and salt will raise your risk of a stroke. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood Alcohol Excessive drinking can men (1.5 pints of 4% beer) and raise the risk of stroke substantially. It influences other conditions that raise the level of risk, such as hypertension, diabetes and : high cholesterol, and it can also trigger atrial fibrillation. 2-3 units for women (a 175 ml glass of red wine). pressure - an increase of just 5 g a day can increase the risk of stroke by more than a fifth. Lack of physical activity The Stroke Association estimates that an inactive, sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of stroke by half. Moderate to intense physical activity practised regularly can reduce risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Obesity Obesity can increase the risk of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and stroke. Obesity levels are increasing rapidly and Diabetes Diabetes leads to atherosclerosis, which can lead to clot formation. It means double the risk of a stroke that non-diabetics High cholesterol Cholesterol levels increase with age, building up fat deposits in the arteries. High levels of cholesterol are often due to a diet it is predicted that by 2050, : face. This increases further : high in saturated fats and nearly 60% of the UK adult : with additional factors such population could be obese. processed foods, and low as high blood pressure, high : in fruit and vegetables. cholesterol and obesity. 4500 strokes and deaths could be prevented every year with better diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and prescription of anticoagulant drugs. 3000 High blood pressure Hypertension is one of the most critical and preventable risk factors for stroke. It accounts for half of all strokes, as high blood pressure puts strain on blood vessels and weakens artery walls. This can quadruple the risk of stroke. infrequently diagnosed. Atrial fibrillation The most common type of iregular heartbeat affects around 750 000 people in the UK, increasing their risk of a stroke. Unfortunately, there is a general lack of awareness about the condition, which is Recognising atrial fibrillation is critical: if you have palpitations, breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue or irregular pulse, get it checked. It may be putting you at the risk 5x of stroke. How much can you reduce your risk? 50%30% ONE YEAR OF QUITTING SMOKING WITHIN BY EATING MORE FRUIT AND VEG Within only 1 year of quitting smoking, the risk of stroke is halved. 5 years after quitting, former smokers have the same stroke risk as non-smokers, regardless of the age at which they started or the number of cigarettes they used to smoke a day. Eating fruit and vegetables can reduce your risk of stroke by up to 30% and the more you eat the lower the risk. A diet high in fibre and including fish reduces the risk of stroke, as does eating less salt and saturated fats. 27%31% BY REDUCING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE BY AND MORE EXERCISING Moderate physical activity can reduce the risk of stroke by more than a quarter. It has beneficial effects by increasing heart rate and blood flow, and reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It enables weight loss and reduces the likelihood of obesity. Risk of stroke is reduced by nearly a third with a 10 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure. A healthy diet, reduced weight and more exercise can help, as can taking the correct medication when instructed. Sources: Alford L, Int J Clin Pract 201o; British Heart Foundation; Stroke Association; Wolf PA et al., J Am Med Assoc 1988; Research and design: Paulo Estriga Writing: Sharlin Ahmed, Paulo Estriga Thanks to: Clare Walton and Nikki Hill (Stroke Association); Peter Scarborough (British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group) wellcometrust

Stroke: Risk factors

shared by PauloEstriga on Feb 26
Part four of a four-part infographic series about the situation with stroke in the UK, published weekly in the Wellcome Trust blog in May 2012 (National Stroke Awareness Month). Also featured in The G...


Wellcome Trust


Paulo Estriga & Sharlin Ahmed


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