Five Stroke Risks For Women
By Robin Westen
Every year, almost half a million American women suffer a stroke. The attack comes on suddenly and can be debilitating or deadly. There are certain risk factors that bump up the chance of having a stroke. Knowing what they are can help you take action to prevent a stroke.
If these headaches are accompanied by an aura including visual disturbances like flashing lights, the risk is boosted by 21 percent. Although the precise connection between migraines and stroke isn't understood, both conditions involve blood vessels in the brain. Ask your doctor about preventing and treating migraines, either with natural remedies or prescribed medications.
Eating Processed Meats If your diet includes regular consumption of processed meats such as sausage, bacon, lunch meats, ham, and hot dogs, your stroke risk is 23 percent higher. The scientific explanation isn't clear-cut, but researchers suggest that sodium in meat may increase risk both by boosting blood pressure and by causing vascular stiffness. Nitrates and nitrite preservatives may also contribute to stroke risk.
Diabetes People with Type 2 diabetes are two to three times more likely to have a stroke. And the risk can be even greater if you continue to smoke or develop hyperglycemia or atrial fibrillation. Strokes are also more severe and cause higher mortality in diabetics. Taking medicine to cut cholesterol lowers stroke risk considerably. Preventing diabetes by keeping active and losing weight also lowers stroke risk.
A Sedentary Lifestyle Couch potatoes take note -- moderate exercise lowers your risk of a nonfatal stroke by 20 percent and your risk of a fatal stroke by 30 percent. Lack of activity also makes strokes worse when they do happen. People who were less active before having a stroke had more severe strokes and didn't recover as fully afterwards. According to researchers, all you need is 30 minutes or more of aerobic activity--brisk walking, for instance--five times a week.
Alcohol According to a study published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" three or more drinks a day can raise your stroke risk by 45 percent. There's also research showing that the chance of stroke increases greatly in the first hour after consuming a drink. If you're a moderate drinker -- defined as having one or two drinks approximately every other day -- your risk of stroke is lower than it is for teetotalers. Limit weekly drinking to a few glasses (preferably of red wine, which is heart-protective).
Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. Her newest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is “V Is For Vagina.”