Risk Factors for Stroke
There are many factors that can put you at a higher risk of having a stroke. Some of these risk factors—like age and race—you cannot control.
But the good news is there's a lot you can do to help reduce your risk. Talk with your doctor about steps you can take to help control the risk factors you can change. Together with your doctor, you can identify your specific risks and develop a treatment plan that works for you.
Risk factors you can't control
Prior TIA (transient ischemic attack or "mini-stroke") or stroke: Having a TIA or stroke due to a blood clot significantly increases your chance of having a future stroke. In fact, about one-third of people who have a TIA will have an acute stroke in the future. And 25% of people who survive a stroke will have another stroke within 5 years.
Age: Once you turn 55, your chance of having a stroke doubles each decade.
Gender: Women have more strokes than men—and are more likely to die from them.
Race: African Americans are at increased risk of having a stroke—and are twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians. And Hispanic or Latino men have a higher risk of stroke than Caucasian men.
Heredity: Having a family history of stroke increases your risk of having a stroke or TIA.
Risk factors you can help manage
High blood pressure: High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke.
High blood cholesterol: Too much cholesterol can lead to a buildup of plaque in the walls of your arteries, reducing normal blood flow to the brain, possibly resulting in a stroke.
Smoking: Smoking can double your chances of having a stroke.
Diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk of stroke.
Heart disease: Conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart valve defects, or irregular heartbeat can raise the risk of a stroke.
Obesity: Excess weight increases your risk of stroke as well as other conditions that also increase your stroke risk—such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Inactivity: Living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to conditions that increase your risk of stroke, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Poor diet: Diets high in calories, saturated and trans fats, sodium, and cholesterol—and low in fruits and vegetables—can increase your risk of stroke.
Excessive drinking: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of stroke and other health problems. If you do consume alcohol, it is recommended that you do so in moderation.
The important thing is to work with your doctor to make sure you understand your risk of a subsequent stroke. That way, you can be sure you're doing all you can to help reduce the risk.
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