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Cut out the attached list and paste it into your "pocket brain" to have at hand the risk factors for stroke. Feel free to add your contribution to the pocket brain column of Drug Utilization Review by sending it to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Increasing age — risk doubles for each decade after age 55
• Sex — incidence and prevalence of stroke are about equal for men and women; however, more than 50% of deaths resulting from stroke occur in women
• Heredity and race — family history increases risk; African Americans have a much higher risk of morbidity and mortality from stroke than whites, corresponding with a greater incidence of hypertension and diabetes; Asian-Pacific Islanders and Hispanics also have a high risk of stroke
• Prior stroke — risk is several times greater of a repeat stroke once you’ve had one
• Hypertension — BP of 140/90 or higher for an extended time is the most important risk factor for stroke
• Cigarette smoking — nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system; use of oral contraception in addition to smoking greatly increases the risk of stroke
• Diabetes — an independent risk factor for stroke, even when diabetes is treated; strongly correlated with hypertension; elevated cholesterol and obesity exacerbate the risk
• Carotid artery disease — carotid arteries altered by atherosclerosis may become blocked with blood clots and cause strokes; peripheral artery disease associated with atherosclerosis is a risk factor for carotid artery disease
• Heart disease — puts individuals at more than twice the risk; atrial fibrillation, in particular, increases risk; heart attack is the major cause of death among stroke survivors
• TIA — transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) produce symptoms of stroke without lasting damage; TIAs are strong predictors of stroke; the occurrence of 1+ TIA raises the risk almost 10 times that of someone of the same sex and age without a history of TIA; emergency medical help should be sought immediately once a TIA is suspected
• Increased hemoglobin — moderate to marked increase in Hg thickens the blood and increases likelihood of clot formation
• Sickle cell anemia — "sickled" red blood cells carry less oxygen to the body and tend to stick to blood vessel walls, with the potential to block arteries to the brain, resulting in a stroke.
Adapted from American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org/Heart_and_Stroke_A_Z_Guide/strokeri.html