The good news is that stroke mortality rates have declined in the last decade. The not so good news is that the risk factors for stroke are rising. This suggests that while treatment for stroke has gotten better, we have not made the best strides in terms of prevention. This conclusion comes from a recent study published in Neurology.
Researchers examined over 900,000 people who were hospitalized for stroke between 2004 and 2014. They looked at future health records for these individuals and saw some concerning trends. Nearly every possible risk factor for stroke increased. For example, high cholesterol rates more than doubled from 29% to 59%.
Almost every age group saw an increase in these risk factors over the study’s timeline. Young people, especially, saw increases in strokes that are related to drug abuse. One reason as to why some of these factors increased is that doctors have become better at diagnosing them. Lifestyle choices may also play a role in this increase.
The main takeaway is that knowing what risk factors can cause strokes goes a long way towards prevention. While strokes may not be as deadly as they once were, it’s best to prevent them in the first place. Factors such as lack of exercise, poor nutrition, smoking, and drug abuse can increase one’s risk of having a stroke. If you are concerned about your risk of having a stroke because of any of these factors, talk to your doctor about the best course of action to reduce your chances.
Otite, Fadar O., Nicholas Liaw, et al. "Increasing Prevalence of Vascular Risk Factors in Patients with Stroke A Call to Action." Neurology. 11 Oct. 2017. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.00000000000046 17