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Stroke Risk Factors: October 23, 2011

Finding out whether you’re pre-disposed to suffer a stroke, is half the battle. It begins with knowing the key risk factors.

“Age is probably the most clear risk factor for stroke,” says Dr. Levine.

Dr. Ross Levine is medical director of vascular neurology at Lee Memorial Health System.

“For every 10 years that we live, every 10 years that we go from 30 to 40, or 40 to 50, and so on, the incident of stroke goes up, scientifically we use the term exponentially,” says Dr. Levine.

Doctors also recognize the importance of blood pressure as a risk factor.

“Stroke prone individuals typically are those with high blood pressure, especially if it’s poorly controlled,” says Dr. Levine.

But recent studies found even slightly elevated blood pressure, called pre-hypertension, greatly increases the chance for stroke.

Pre-hypertension is easy to determine. It’s when the top number of your blood pressure is between 120 and 139, while the bottom number is between 80 and 89. People who fall into those ranges are about 55% more likely to suffer a stroke.

Pre-hypertension didn’t increase the risk of stroke in seniors though. Adults who reach old age typically have other health conditions that come into play.

“People who smoke are more stroke prone, people with heart disease, they kind of go hand. Those with diabetes, any kind of diabetes, especially poorly controlled. With more time you have more statistical chance to develop more of the diseases,” says Dr. Levine.

Identifying risks and narrowing down the people who have them may prove lifesaving.

“We certainly have a cholesterol level we want your cholesterol under, we certainly have blood pressure readings we want your pressure lower than and your diabetes under certain values,” says Dr. Levine.

Leaving age as the only risk factor that is totally out of our control.