Stroke: The surprising factor putting millions at risk of a having a deadly incident

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, with survey data showing it is the most feared condition in the UK. Fortunately, preventive measures can be taken to lower one’s risk, but knowing the signs and risk factors is key. One surprising factor is an often-overlooked risk component for having a stroke. What’s more, the condition affects millions of individuals in the UK.

The risk factors for stroke are generally well known, and some are more preventable than others.

These include high blood pressure and high cholesterol, arguably two of the most important risk components.

Blood pressure can cause blood vessels to narrow, rupture or leak, while high cholesterol contributes to the formation of arterial plaque.

But snoring, which is linked to sleep apnea, may limit the amount of oxygen reaching the brain during sleep, which could also have severe repercussions.

READ MORE: Stroke: The drink that could increase risk of stroke threefold when consumed ‘once daily’

Sleep apnea is a precursor for stroke because it is behind high blood pressure and low oxygen, both of which could trigger a stroke during sleep.

This was confirmed by findings presented at the International Stroke Conference in 2019.

The condition is well known for being one of the primary causes of daytime sleepiness because patients can wake up hundreds of times each night.

It occurs when muscles in the airways relax to the point that oxygen is no longer able to pass through. Individuals, therefore, have to wake up to resume breathing.

The condition is prevalent in the UK, affecting an estimated 1.5 million adults.

But 85 percent of cases remain undiagnosed, and therefore untreated.

This is particularly dangerous because strokes are time-sensitive, so prompt medical intervention is imperative for avoiding death or disability.

Other risk factors for stroke include having an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation.

This can cause the heart to occasionally throw off small bits of debris which could clog the arteries supplying the brain.

Atrial fibrillation is usually able to stabilise itself, but it can revert at any point, which is when the condition poses the greatest threat.

Certain foods, notably those rich in potassium, can help regulate heart rhythm and lower the risk of stroke.


Stroke can be broken down into two different types of incidents.

Ischaemic stroke occurs when a blood clot obstructs blood flow to the brain, and this type accounts for the majority of strokes.

Hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, occurs when blood presses bursts inside the brain.

With any type of stroke incident, early intervention is key for curative treatment.

Symptoms of stroke typically involve confusion, a very severe headache. unexplained confusion and sudden blurred or loss of vision.

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