Knowing your risk for stroke is important for preventing stroke. There
are risk factors you can control, and others you can’t. Have regular
medical checkups to determine your risk and focus on the things you can
control to reduce your risk.
Controllable risk factors:
- High blood pressure. This is the single most important risk factor for
stroke because it’s the number one cause of stroke. If your blood
pressure is consistently 140/90 or above, it’s high. Talk with your
doctor on how to control it.
Tobacco use. Don’t smoke cigarettes are use other forms of tobacco. Tobacco use
damages blood vessels.
- High cholesterol. High blood cholesterol increases the risk of clogged arteries.
- Diabetes. Having diabetes increases your risk of stroke because it can
cause disease of blood vessels in the brain.
- Physical inactivity and obesity. Being inactive, obese or both can increase
your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Excessive alcohol intake. Drinking an average of more than one drink per
day for women or more than two drinks a day for men raises blood pressure.
Binge drinking can lead to stroke.
- Illegal drug use. Intravenous drug use carries a high risk of stroke. Cocaine
use also has been linked to stroke.
- Carotid or other artery disease. The carotid arteries in the neck supply
most of the blood to the brain. A carotid artery damaged by a fatty buildup
of plaque inside the artery wall may become blocked by a blood clot, causing a stroke.
Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease. In atrial fibrillation, the heart’s upper
chambers quiver rather than beat effectively. This causes the blood to
pool and clot, increasing the risk of stroke. People with other types
of heart disease have a high risk of stroke, too.
Risk factors one can’t control:
- Increasing age. Although stroke affects people of all ages, the older you
are, the greater the risk of stroke.
- Gender. In most age groups, more men than women have stroke, but more women
die from stroke.
- Heredity and race. People whose close blood relations have had a stroke
have a higher risk. African Americans and Hispanic Americans are at a
higher risk for stroke.
- Prior stroke. Some who has had a stroke is at higher risk of having another one.