Treatable Risk Factors
High Blood Pressure, or hypertension, is the most common risk factor for stroke. In fact, the risk of stroke is dramatically increased or decreased based on this factor alone. Adults should have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis. If high blood pressure develops, there are many positive steps that can be taken,  including eating a healthier diet and maintaining a proper weight. In addition, medications can help.
People with Heart Disease have more than twice the risk of stroke than those with healthy hearts. Though the largest risk factors are typically heart rhythm problems (fast or irregular beating) and heart structure problems (heart muscle damage, heart valve problems), anyone with heart disease should consult a doctor on a regular basis. Proper management of heart disease can definitely reduce the risk of stroke.
High Red Blood Cell Count can be another risk factor for stroke. An excess of red blood cells "thicken" the blood, making it easier for clots to form. An abnormal red blood cell count can be detected by a simple lab test during a routine physical examination, and blood-thinning medications can be used to treat the condition.
Diabetes makes a person much more susceptible to suffering a stroke, and often diabetics also suffer from high blood pressure—another treatable risk factor. Controlling diabetes will have an impact on the possibility of having a stroke.
Cigarette Smoking is an important risk factor for stroke, particularly with long-term smokers. Smoking reduces oxygen in the blood, thickens the blood and makes clots more likely to form. It also increases the buildup of plaque in the arteries and temporarily increases blood pressure. Smoking just four cigarettes a day can damage blood vessels, and a smoker with high blood pressure is 20 times more likely to suffer stroke than someone with neither risk factor.
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