Summary: Stroke is among the leading causes of death and disability in the US, and yet the condition is highly preventable. Some individuals are at a greater Genetic stroke risk due to family history or genetics. Though the genetic make of an individual cannot be altered, but the new study shows that more intensive lifestyle interventions can still balance the risk posed by genetics.
Stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in the US, resulting in 1 in 6 deaths in the nation. Every year, about 800,000 people in the US have a stroke, and more than 600,000 have a new or first stroke. Despite much progress in treatment, it still remains a highly fatal condition. Even if doctors are able to save the patient, it still causes prolonged disability. Moreover, many may experience stroke repeatedly. There are some other worrisome trends in the US, like stroke is now being increasingly reported in young adults. For example, almost 40% of those who have a stroke are younger than 65 years of age. Additionally, it appears that people of color are disproportionately affected by stroke.
However, there is good news, too. Stroke is a cardiovascular disorder mainly caused by wrong lifestyle choices. It means that by making lifestyle changes, it can be prevented. Stroke risk factors can be divided into two categories: modifiable and non-modifiable. Modifiable risk factors are those that can be changed or managed through lifestyle changes or medical intervention, while non-modifiable factors are inherent characteristics that cannot be altered.
Modifiable risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, and excessive alcohol consumption. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and can be managed through lifestyle changes or medication. Smoking can cause blood vessels to narrow, increasing the risk of blood clots and stroke. A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of stroke, while regular exercise can help reduce the risk.
A diet that is high in salt, saturated fat, and cholesterol can increase the risk of stroke, while a healthy diet can help reduce the risk. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of stroke while maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk. High cholesterol levels can promote the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, increasing the risk of stroke, while controlling cholesterol levels can help reduce the risk.
Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart rhythm disorder that can increase the risk of genetic stroke. People with atrial fibrillation can reduce their risk by controlling their heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. People with diabetes are at increased risk of stroke, and controlling blood sugar levels can help reduce the risk. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of stroke, while limiting alcohol consumption to moderate levels can help reduce the risk.
Non-modifiable risk factors for stroke include age, gender, family history, race and ethnicity, and personal history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). The risk of stroke increases as people get older. Men have a slightly higher risk of stroke than women, although women are more likely to die from stroke.
Having a family history of stroke or other cardiovascular diseases can increase the risk of stroke. Certain racial and ethnic groups have a higher risk of stroke, such as African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans. In addition, people with a previous stroke or TIA are at an increased risk of another stroke in the future.
Though one cannot change age or family history, a new study shows that one can even balance the risk posed by non-modifiable risk factors like high genetic stroke risk. Thus, researchers say that even non-modifiable factors are modifiable, but they ask for extra effort. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that by adopting healthy lifestyle choices, one can reduce stroke risk by as much as 43%.
To understand whether lifestyle measures can offset genetic risk, researchers analyzed the data of almost 12,000 people. They found that those who followed the American Heart Association recommendations, like stopping smoking, eating better, staying physically active, and reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, were at a significantly lower risk of having a genetic stroke despite the family history.
All this means that a family history of stroke is no longer an excuse, as the study confirms that one can even offset genetic stroke risk through lifestyle changes. Thus, the presence of non-modifiable risk factors only asks for increased efforts.
It is our mission to bring real hope and transformational change to patients who would otherwise be consigned to a lifetime of medications, doctor’s visits, and suffering. We expose misaligned incentives and return the power of health to the individual. We believe empowered individuals change their communities. We use a combination of lifestyle intervention, medication management, and emerging scientific research to help our patients. When you are ready or have questions, reach out.
The content provided herein is not intended to provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice; it also does not constitute provision of healthcare services. No information in this content should ever be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional, it is provided for thoughtful discussion, informational and educational purposes only.