The risk factors of stroke include both modifiable and non-modifiable factors. Modifiable factors are those you have some control over. Non-modifiable factors include age, sex, race, and family history; among these, the most powerful factor is age. Approximately 75% of all strokes are in people over age 65, and your risk for stroke increases every 10 years after age 55.
Why is age such a strong factor?
As we get older, the intricate network of blood vessels in the brain begins to undergo changes that may weaken or impair the flow of blood. This seems to be a part of the natural aging process, although it affects some people more than others.
However, this does not fully explain the increased risk of stroke in the elderly. In fact, a study in Lancet in 2010, which reviewed data from 22 countries, identified ten factors that accounted for 88% of all strokes, and age was not one of them. Then why are 75% of strokes in the elderly? Because the elderly usually have two or more of these risk factors.
Risk factors of stroke often found in the elderly
The Lancet study by O’Donnell et al found that the most significant risk factors for stroke included:
- History of hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Current smoking
- Waist-to-hip ratio
- Physical activity level
- Diabetes mellitus
- Alcohol consumption ( >30 drinks per month or binge drinking)
- Psychosocial stress and depression
- Cardiac causes
- LDL/HDL ratio (cholesterol)
The study found that all these factors were significant for ischemic strokes, while hypertension, smoking, waist-to-hip ratio, diet, and alcohol intake were significant risk factors for hemorrhagic strokes. Unfortunately, nearly 90% of elderly people who have a stroke have two or more of these risk factors.
Decreasing your risk of stroke
If you are over 65, your risk of stroke will be elevated due to the natural aging process of the brain. However, since controllable, modifiable factors account for the greatest risk, now is the time to reduce your risk by reducing these other factors.
Talk to your doctor about which of these risk factors that you may have are the most critical to modify right now, then work out a plan to start eliminating the other factors over time. Certain lifestyle changes can positively affect other areas simultaneously. For instance, beginning a healthy exercise program would improve your weight and waist-to-hip ratio, decrease stress and lessen depressed feelings, and could possibly have a positive effect on blood pressure and cholesterol. A healthier diet would help with weight and waist-to-hip ratio, diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
As you develop your healthy lifestyle plan, talk to your doctor about adding a Neuralert stroke detection wristband to that plan, as an important safeguard so that you can have an early-warning signal if you suffer a stroke. Our state-of-the-art, AI-driven technology wristband looks like a smartwatch and can detect warning signs of a stroke within minutes. Early stroke treatment saves lives and can often prevent or limit long-term side effects. Ask your doctor about adding Neuralert’s stroke detection wristbands to your health program.