What unconventional stroke risk factors are out there?

Stroke is a terrible disease. It comes unexpectedly out of the blue, strikes quickly, and leaves devastation in its wake.

Ischemic stroke. NIH Image Gallery on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihgov/24964721940
Ischemic stroke. NIH Image Gallery on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihgov/24964721940

 

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.

DNA rendering. ynse on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ynse/542370154
DNA rendering. ynse on Flikr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ynse/542370154

 

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.

3D model of influenza virus
3D model of influenza virus

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.

By LaurMG. - Cropped from "File:Frustrated man at a desk.jpg"., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20367001
By LaurMG. – Cropped from “File:Frustrated man at a desk.jpg“., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20367001

 

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.

 

By BruceBlaus - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44968538
By BruceBlaus – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44968538

 

Some medical risk factors are difficult to relate with stroke. Take for example

By M. Adiputra - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11602220
By M. AdiputraOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11602220

 

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!

Addendum

And straight off the press, you can now add sleep apnoea and insomnia to the list of stroke risk factors.

One thought on “What unconventional stroke risk factors are out there?

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