Risk Factors for Strokes Among Seniors

Author: Christine Browning

Risk Factors word cloud

As the fourth leading cause of death in America, stroke statistics are frightening, to say the least. Someone will die from a stroke every five minutes. So, it pays to know more about stroke, how it happens, who is at risk, and what to do should one occur. If you are a senior or a caregiver for a senior loved one, you need to know the facts on strokes!

What Is a Stroke?

We’ve all heard of a heart attack, but have you heard of a “brain attack?” That is essentially what a stroke is. It happens when the brain has a sudden interruption of blood flow, quickly causing neurological damage. In some cases, it can cause total paralysis on one side of the body, and in others, it can be a sharp change in speech, memory or movement. Bodily movements can be severely impacted due to stroke, especially when the stroke isn’t treated very quickly.

What are the Types of Strokes?

Strokes happen in one of two ways: 

  • Ischemic strokes, which make up more than 80% of all strokes, happens when there is a major blockage of blood flow to the brain, causing a blood clot. The presence of fatty acids or plaque can also cause these blockages. 
  • Hemorrhagic strokes are far deadlier and more severe. The good news is that these are much more rare. Only 30% of stroke victims will die from this type of stroke. This type of stroke happens when there is a hemorrhage in the brain, caused by a ruptured blood vessel.

Here’s What We Know

Senior adults and caregivers alike should be educated on strokes and be aware of the risk factors. Here are a few points to remember:

  • More men than women experience a stroke.
  • Women have higher odds for dying from stroke-related complications.
  • The African American population has a risk twice as high as their Caucasian counterparts.
  • Even though strokes usually happen to older people, 25% of them happen to people 50 and under. 
  • Strokes account for the highest rate of physical disabilities in the United States.
  • If someone has had a stroke, even a minor one, their risk for having another one is exponentially higher, and could likely happen within a five year period after the first one.

Risk Factors for a Stroke

While it may seem very sobering to learn about the risk factors for stroke, it’s vital that we prepare for a stroke event and know what to do should it happen. Some risk factors cannot be prevented. Some of those include:

  • Age. After the age of 55, each decade thereafter doubles a person’s risk for stroke. 
  • Family History and Genetics. If you have a member of your immediate family who has had a stroke, your risk is much higher for having one yourself. 
  • Race. African Americans are the race with the highest potential for strokes.

So, now for some good news! It is completely possible to lower your risk by 80% or more, simply by making lifestyle choices that help prevent a stroke from ever happening. As with so many other health risks, smoking, obesity, and high alcohol consumption are all big risk factors for stroke and should be stopped immediately if you’re already at risk. The reason for these particular risk factors is that they can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which can cause a stroke.

For more information on strokes and what to do if one does happen, please contact us today!

Home Helpers of Barrington is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including 24 hour care, live-in care, home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Barrington, Lake Bluff, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills, Mundelein, Wauconda, Fox River Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Inverness, Carpentersville, Kildeer, Cary, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Prospect Heights, Grayslake, and Long Grove, Illinois.

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