June Blog – Stroke, are you at risk?
June – Stroke
Are You At Risk For A Stroke?
Stroke is the third-largest killer of Canadian adults, after heart disease and cancer. It’s also the primary cause of physical disabilities and is second only to Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of mental disability.
In Canada, there are more than 50,000 strokes a year. About 6% of deaths in Canada are due to stroke – and 20% of cardiovascular-related deaths. On average, one stroke occurs every 10 minutes; 15% of them will result in death, 10% in complete recovery, and the remaining in varying degrees of long-term disability. Although the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years after age 55, there are 6.7 strokes for every 100,000 people under the age of 19.
While anyone can have a stroke, including young healthy people, some of us are more at risk. Stroke has many of the same risk factors as heart disease. Although some risk factors, such as age, cannot be controlled, there are many risk factors that can be controlled.
Risk factors that can be controlled or treated include:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- blood vessel disease (such as peripheral artery disease or carotid artery disease)
- atrial fibrillation (a disorder of the heart rhythm where the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating normally)
- heart disease (including atrial fibrillation)
- transient ischemic attacks (TIAs; a “mini-stroke” that has symptoms similar to a stroke, but with no lasting brain damage)
- some types of blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia)
- high alcohol consumption (for men, more than 14 drinks per week; for women, more than 9 drinks per week)
- recreational drug use (cocaine, amphetamines, and LSD)
- use of postmenopausal hormone therapy
Risk factors that cannot be controlled or treated include:
- age: stroke risk increases as you age, doubling every decade for people over 55 years of age
- gender: strokes are more common in men than in women until menopause, but women are more likely to die of stroke
- family (parents, siblings, or children) history of stroke or heart disease
- ethnicity: First Nations people and people of African or South Asian descent are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes and so are at a higher risk of heart disease than the general population
- personal history of heart attack or stroke: if you have already had a stroke or heart attack, you’re more likely to have a stroke
- low birth weight
If you’re concerned that you might be at risk, speak to your health care professional. They will be able to help you find ways to deal with the risk factors that can be controlled.
Ask Your Pharmacist
Question: Can over-the-counter products or my prescription medications increase my blood pressure and the risk of stroke?
The answer depends on your individual situation, any medical conditions you may have and what medications you may be taking. Your pharmacist can help you understand if there are any side effects or interactions you should watch out for. If you have concerns about your medications, your pharmacist can review them with you and help you manage them effectively. Remember, it’s important to take your medications exactly as prescribed and for as long as required.
Do you have more questions? Speak with your Pharmasave pharmacist.
People who smoke have nearly twice the risk of stroke but, even if you don’t smoke, your risk increases if you’re exposed to second-hand smoke. Think about places you go where you might be exposed to second-hand smoke and plan how to limit exposure. If you do smoke and are planning quit, speak with your pharmacist about support and treatment options to help you become tobacco-free.
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