risks of stroke
Image: Courtesy of Matteo Vistocco via Unsplash

These Are the Most Common Causes and Risk Factors for a Stroke

From where you live to your body's immune system.

With May being National Stroke Awareness Month, many are thinking about the best ways to keep our brains healthy and functioning. The immediate causes of stroke are burst blood vessels or blocked arteries, but it’s easy to confuse those with risk factors. Strokes are becoming more and more common these days, and it’s not just among our older population that we see this terrifying statistic occur. According to Sutter Health, “Certain health conditions can also cause strokes in the young. We think of stroke as something that happens to older people. But every year, about 70,000 Americans under age 45 have strokes. About 10 to 15 percent of strokes occur in children and adults under age 45, and that number is rising.” We interviewed Environmental specialist Douglas Mulhall to tell us more about the top causes and risk factors of this health condition that we tend to overlook. Keep reading to learn more!

risks of stroke
Image: Courtesy of Adrian Swancar via Unsplash

These Are the Most Common Causes and Risk Factors for a Stroke

1) Your immune system is attacking you

The immune system backfires when it tries to protect you against chronic environmental threats. As a result, a quiet revolution is shaking stroke research due to the growing realization that  misguided immunity is responsible for many stroke factors, and may trigger strokes themselves. A chronic immune response triggers inflammation that leads to hardening of arteries and plaque buildup. This is being investigated in the rapidly growing field of epigenetics, which looks at how the environment trains your genes to react. When we look at these factors, we tend to overlook them and ignore them but they are important in preventing the risk for a stroke.

2) The elastic in your arteries is damaged

There would probably be no strokes from burst blood vessels if your arteries kept their elasticity. A blood vessel usually bursts due to elastic in the artery wall being stiffened or weakened. In 2021, for the first time, restoring the elastic in arteries of aortic aneurysm patients was reported, based on 20 years of research at Clemson University in South Carolina. This major breakthrough signals a paradigm shift in stroke prevention and therapy. Imagine what can happen in ten or twenty years down the line. More exciting therapies are definitely on their way.

3) Having toxic metals increase stroke risk

The correlation is growing between hemorrhagic stroke and levels of toxic metals like lead and cadmium. Toxic metals occur naturally in our environment and are also generated by industry. These provoke an immune response (see cause one). Therapies that reverse similar causes and risk factors have shown surprising results in cardiovascular patients who have Critical Limb Ischemia. Amputation risk was eliminated and arteries were un-blocked with this therapy. As metals were flushed out of patients, their condition improved. Where do toxic metals in our bloodstream come from? According to Everyday Health, “Heavy metal poisoning is caused by the accumulation of certain metals in the body due to exposure through food, water, industrial chemicals, or other sources. While your body needs small amounts of some heavy metals to function normally — such as zinc, copper, chromium, iron, and manganese — toxic amounts are harmful”.

4) Where you live in the United States could be a risk factor

Strokes are more common among people living in the southeastern U.S. than in other areas. Stroke deaths occur more often during extreme temperatures, and are more common among low-income communities due to higher levels of stress from financial instability. According to the CDC, “every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. About 185,000 strokes—nearly 1 in 4—are in people who have had a previous stroke. About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked.” This is a shocking statistic, but we hope that this article will do something to help you prevent the risk and causes of a stroke and stay healthy.

In Conclusion

You could be at risk or close to the cause of a stroke if you have the following: a blood vessel usually bursts due to elastic in the artery wall being stiffened or weakened, if your immune system may be backfiring on you and causing you to have inflammation in the body, if there is toxic metal in your bloodstream due to exposure from food, water, or chemicals, and depending on where you live in the United States. Mitigate these risks by not smoking, eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a low level of stress day to day.

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