Did you know that Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States?
According to the CDC, strokes are the leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans every year. 1 out of every 19 deaths. Essentially, every four minutes someone dies of a stroke.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is the same as a heart attack but to the brain. If blood flow is stopped for more than a few seconds brain cells, die, causing permanent damage.
But….. The silver lining of this statistic is that most strokes are PREVENTABLE! Of course, there are risk factors you can’t control i.e. your age, genetic disposition, gender, and race, but there are many factors you can control.
Stroke Risk Factors That Are Controllable
- Alcohol use
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
What is a Stroke?
Simply put, a stroke is when your brain suddenly dies due to lack of oxygen. National statistics show that 80% of all strokes are due to ischemia or loss of blood flow to the brain.
Ischemic strokes are most commonly due to thrombosis or a local obstruction of an artery due to hardening or thickening of the artery walls. Obstructions are typically caused by plaque that builds up in your arteries over time. When the plaque ruptures and breaks off, the interior of the plaque releases chemical substances which cause blood clots to form.
This deadly combination of plaque and blood clots lead to thrombosis or complete obstruction of blood flow to the brain. Your brain is extremely sensitive to even brief periods of ischemia. When the blood flow is cut off, your brain can’t get the critical nutrients and oxygen it needs to survive. The result is a rapid death of brain tissue known as a stroke.
What is Atherosclerosis?
The underlying condition of an ischemic stroke is the development of fatty deposits lining the vessel walls. This condition is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries occurs when fat and LDL Cholesterol buildup in the walls of your arteries. Over time, these deposits form plaque obstructions which can block blood flow to various parts of your body.
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