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Risk Factors for Stroke

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.