Stroke is a terrible disease. It comes unexpectedly out of the blue, strikes quickly, and leaves devastation in its wake.
Stroke treatment is advancing in leaps and bounds, but the best approach remains preventative. We are all aware of the need to guard against the conventional harbingers of stroke: hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, and smoking. We are also aware of the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise.
There are of course stroke risk factors we can do nothing about: age is one, and there is of course a long list of genetic stroke risk factors.
Just as we are getting used to monitoring our blood pressures and heading to the park, some neurologists are bent on making our task a little bit harder. It’s no longer enough to flex those biceps or stamp out that stub; we now have to take notice of unconventional stoke risk factors. The first of these is infection.
This paper in Neurology titled Infection, vaccination, and childhood arterial ischemic stroke establishes the association between infection and stroke. The authors showed that 18% of children with stroke had an infection in the preceding week, compared to only 3% of those that did not have a stroke. Adults should not count themselves lucky going by another paper in the journal Vaccine titled Influenza vaccination and risk of stroke: Self-controlled case-series study. Both papers reassure us that immunisation helps to counter the stroke hazard of infections- one strong reason not to skip the next round of flu vaccinations.
Beyond infection come more bizarre unconventional stroke risk factors. We have always known that stress is no good; now we have some evidence to back this up. Just take the following factors now linked to stroke:
Add depression to this and you have a dangerous trio.
Some medical risk factors are difficult to relate with stroke. Take for example
Another risk factor to watch out for is air pollution. And to cap it off, being bilingual improves the chances of recovery from stroke. How unconventional is that!
And straight off the press, you can now add sleep apnoea and insomnia to the list of stroke risk factors.