A stroke is a very scary thing: A vessel carrying blood to the brain becomes blocked or bursts, leaving the brain deprived of the essential oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive. In the minutes following a stroke, brain cells begin to die.
Strokes are the No. 1 cause of disability and the No. 4 cause of death in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. But knowing the risk factors and symptoms of a stroke can play a huge role in reducing the potentially devastating effects.
Types of strokes
Your diet and exercise habits play a big role in your risk for having a stroke. Remember, fatty deposits in blood vessels cause the majority of stroke cases. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.
Smoking can also play a role: Nicotine and carbon dioxide cause damage to your blood vessels, weakening them and putting you at risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Genetics may be a risk factor as well. Your risk of having a stroke is higher if an immediate family member has had a stroke, according to the asociation.
“Some strokes may be symptoms of genetic disorders like CADASIL, which is caused by a gene mutation that leads to damage of blood vessel walls in the brain, blocking blood flow,” the organization’s website states.