Stroke Danger Elements – ActiveBeat


6. Hyperlipidemia

Hyperlipidemia, or high blood cholesterol levels, is an established risk factor for stroke. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver. It is also obtained from the foods we eat. Excess cholesterol in the blood eventually deposits in the walls of the arteries. Hyperlipidemia specifically refers to high levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because of its role in the development of atherosclerosis, which can lead to coronary heart disease and ischemic strokes.

Statins are a class of drugs commonly used to treat hyperlipidemia. Examples of statins include atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and fluvastatin (Lescol). A scientific journal published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that treatment of hyperlipidemia with statins resulted in a 25% reduction in the risk of fatal and non-fatal stroke. In high-risk individuals, the recommended target LDL is less than 100 mg/dl.

7. Carotid artery disease

Carotid artery disease is an important risk factor for stroke. The carotid arteries are the main blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck and face. There is a right carotid artery and a left carotid artery. Carotid artery stenosis, or narrowing of the carotid artery, is usually due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries with cholesterol-like plaque). Cholesterol plaque in the carotid artery can fragment and travel to the brain causing a stroke.

The risk of stroke increases with the degree of carotid artery stenosis, which can be determined by cerebral angiography (x-rays of the carotid arteries after injection of contrast medium). In the Asicular Carotid Atherosclerosis Surgery (ACAS) trial, men with 60-99% asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis had an absolute reduction in strokes and deaths of 66% when treated with carotid endarterectomy . During this surgery, a cardiovascular surgeon opens the carotid artery and removes cholesterol plaque.

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