Basically, a stroke is divided into two main types: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Each of them affects the brain in different ways and each has its own causes. Ischemic strokes are the most prevalent types of stroke. They are mainly brought about when the flow of blood and the circulation of oxygen are blocked by a blood clot. Essentially, a blood clot forms in an area where the artery as been narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits called plaques, by the process known as atherosclerosis. As one gets older, the arteries tend to get narrow. However, certain factors can accelerate this process.
Such factors include:
- Excessive smoking
- Acute hypertension also called as high blood pressure
- Being overweight/obese
- High levels of cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol intake
Irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) is another probable cause of ischemic strokes. This leads to blood clots in the human heart. Consequently, the blood clot breaks up and escapes through the heart. This causes to be lodged in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. A number of factors can contribute to the occurrence of atrial fibrillation. They include:
- Lung diseases
- Heart valve disease
- Coronary heart diseases
- Overactive thyroid glands (also called hyperthyroidism)
- Excessive alcohol intake on a daily basis
Hemorrhagic stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, and intracranial hemorrhage are less common than ischemic stroke. It is brought about when blood vessels in the skull burst. This results in excessive bleeding around the brain. Medical research indicates that high blood pressure, which weakens the brain’s arteries, enables them to split/rupture. This is the major cause of hemorrhagic stroke.
The following are some of the factors that cause high blood pressure:
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- Lack of exercises
- Excessive smoking
In addition, hemorrhagic stroke can be caused by the occurrence of a brain aneurysm, which refers to the rupturing of balloon-like expansions of blood vessels.
Reducing the risk of stroke
It is not possible to totally prevent stroke because you cannot change some factors that increase the risk of developing this condition. Such factors include:
- Age: Averagely, people who have reached 65+ years are more likely to develop stroke. However, it has been established that about 25% of strokes occur in younger people.
- Family history: You are likely to have a stroke if a family member has ever developed a stroke in the past. The family members or relatives can be your father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, or grandmother.
- Ethnicity: South Asians, Africans, and the Caribbean people are at a higher risk of getting a stroke because they show higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Medical history: The risk of getting stroke is higher if you have ever been diagnosed with stroke, TIA, and heart attack.
However, you can significantly minimize the risks of getting stroke by embracing recommended lifestyle changes. This will help you avoid problems like atherosclerosis as well as high blood pressure. Such lifestyle changes include:
- Adopting a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing the amount of alcohol intake
It is also vital to seek medications early enough to curb atrial fibrillation since it can increase the risk of getting a stroke. Moreover, regularly talk to your physician if you have been diagnosed with a stroke. He/she will advise you on the best medical option for stroke.