Anyone can have a stroke, including young healthy people, but some of us are more at risk. Stroke has many of the same risk factors as heart disease. Although we can’t control some risk factors, such as age, there are many we can control.
Risks that can be controlled or treated
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”)
- atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder)
- heart disease
- transient ischemic attack (sometimes called TIA; a “mini-stroke” that has symptoms similar to a stroke, but with no lasting brain damage)
- not being active enough
- being overweight
- high alcohol consumption (for men, more than 15 drinks per week; for women, more than 10 drinks per week)
- recreational drug use (cocaine, amphetamines, and LSD)
- use of postmenopausal hormone therapy or birth control pills
Risks that cannot be controlled
- age: stroke risk increases as you age, doubling every decade for people over 55 years of age
- gender: strokes are more common in men than in women, but women are more likely to die of stroke
- family history of stroke or heart disease
- ethnicity: First Nations People and people of African or South Asian descent are more likely than people of European descent to have a stroke
- if you have already had a stroke or heart attack, you’re more likely to have a stroke
If you’re concerned, speak to your Live Well Pharmacist or other healthcare professional. They will be able to help you find ways to deal with your risks that can be controlled.
Q: Why is it so important to call 9-1-1 if someone is having a stroke?
A: A stroke is a medical emergency because quick treatment is needed to reduce the consequences. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice these warning signs:
- sudden weakness, numbness, or tingling of the face, arm, or leg (often on only one side of the body)
- sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding speech
- sudden vision problems (often in one eye only)
- sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or falls
- sudden severe headache (often described as “the worst headache of my life”) with no known cause
Do you have a question? Don’t hesitate to ask your Live Well Pharmacist.
While learning to plan healthy meals, you may find it challenging to get the 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day as recommended by Canada’s Food Guide. The best way to go about this is to take baby steps. Rather than trying to increase your intake so quickly all at once, start by adding one serving of fruit to each of your meals (e.g., add a banana to your morning cereal).