May 26, 2021
2 min. read

Ask a Pharmacist: What Are Stroke Risk Factors?


Every year in the United States, 795,000 Americans have a stroke. Since May is National Stroke Awareness Month, we’re doing our part to spread the word – knowing what risk factors for stroke are and how you can control them is a great way to improve your brain health.

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To talk more about stroke prevention and awareness, we’re bringing you our latest Q & A with Medly’s Director of Clinical Services, Viral Shah. Read below to learn about stroke causes, risk factors, and common symptoms, and how to protect you and your loved ones in the future.

What is a stroke?

Stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted. The brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function. Stroke is more prevalent in people over the age of 65, african americans and female demographics.

stroke risk

What causes a stroke?

There are two kinds of strokes. Approximately 87% of all strokes are ischemic, caused by blood clots that block a blood vessel in the brain and 13% are hemorrhagic, caused by blood vessels that break and bleeds into the brain.

What are the risk factors associated with stroke?

There are numerous risk factors for stroke. Some risk factors are hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, smoking, sickle cell disease, prior history of stroke, gender (female > male), age greater than 55 years and ethnicity (highest in Aferican Americans). Hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol are considered modifiable risk factors.

What are symptoms of a stroke?

Evaluation of a stroke patient must be done quickly as some treatment options are most effective when given soon after a stroke begins. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke presented in the acronym “FAST”.

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to rise?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or emergency medical help immediately.

What complications are associated with stroke?

A stroke can lead to temporary or permanent disabilities. Complications include paralysis or loss of muscle movement, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, emotional problems, pain and changes in behavior.


What are stroke prevention strategies?

Stroke prevention strategies target modifiable risk factors such as controlling high blood pressure, lowering the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in the diet, smoking cessation, managing diabetes, regular exercising, maintaining health weight, limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding use of illicit drugs.

Sources: Mayo Clinic CDC NIH

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