Stroke is one of the biggest killers on the planet today. More than 15 million people die every year because of a stroke; 75 percent of those that live suffer some or the other form of disability. It is the leading cause of death in people above 60 years and is known to cause disabilities like loss of eyesight or speech, partial or complete paralysis as well as confusion spells, among other things.
Whenever the blood supply to the brain is blocked, or a blood vessel bursts, the brain cannot get the oxygen it needs. For the brain, loss of blood is the loss of oxygen, when brain cells do not get oxygen they begin dying;this can often cause permanent damage to the body or even death. The most common form of stroke is the ischemic stroke which is caused due to blood clots in an artery or narrowing of the arteries which does not allow the blood flow.
The head is connected to the circulatory system of the rest of the body by a series of large arteries in the neck and then by a series of finer, smaller arteries inside and around the brain. Any blockage in these arteries caused by a buildup of fat inside the walls can deprive the brain cells of oxygen. In some cases a complete blockage of arteries can also occur, this is called atherosclerosis.
The leading cause of plaque formation in the arteries is cholesterol. Cholesterol is naturally produced inside the human body but we also absorb it from our food sources. It is a crucial component of the human cell structure and is a primary constituent of cell membranes and is crucial to learning and memory. It is ferried from cell to cell on particles called lipoproteins. There are two basic types of cholesterols, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
This type of cholesterol is also known as bad cholesterol and is deposited in the form of plaque inside the arteries impeding blood flow. It causes a thick coating inside the arteries. This can rapidly result into a plaque buildup which narrows the arteries down heavily, drastically reducing blood flow.
High density lipoproteins carry cholesterol away from the tissues to the liver where they are expelled from the body. HDL cholesterol, studies show,helps protect the body against strokes. A low HDL cholesterol level can often be an indicator of stroke risk.The ratio of the two above types of lipoproteins is the key deciding factor of your stroke risk.
Here are some factors which can cause a high concentration of cholesterol and increase your stroke risk:
Foods high in saturated fat
Foods containing animal fats, hydrogenated oils, baking chocolate, eggs, butter, bacon, sausages, etc. are high in saturated fats which are converted to LDL cholesterol and cause the buildup of plaque.
Excess body weight
Obesity is basically a buildup of excess fat in your cells, this is usually accompanied by the presence of high cholesterol and constriction of arteries.
Lack of exercise
While cholesterol is important for the body’s functioning, it needs to be used up with the help of regular exercise. A regular workout can help your body burn the excess fats before they have a chance to deposit as plaque in your arteries.
These are just a few causes of strokes, other factors like family history and age also play a role. However, the only way to protect against strokes and high cholesterol is regular workouts and a healthy wholesome diet.