What puts you at risk for stroke?
Your chances of having a stroke depend on your risk factors. Some risks can be lowered with treatment and a healthy lifestyle. Others can't.
This list includes some of the risk factors for having a stroke. You and your doctor can discuss your risk and how to lower it.
Risk factors you can control with treatment
- Atrial fibrillation. This type of irregular heartbeat increases the risk of blood clots that could cause a stroke.
- Atherosclerosis. Also called hardening of the arteries, this happens when fatty deposits build up inside arteries. It can cause conditions such as carotid artery disease or coronary artery disease.
- Diabetes. Diabetes results in high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to hardening of the arteries.
- High blood pressure. Over time, this damages the walls of the arteries which can lead to hardening of the arteries.
- High cholesterol. This can lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls.
- Other health problems. There are many problems that raise the risk of blood clots that could cause a stroke. These include sickle cell disease and blood clotting problems.
Risk factors you can control with a heart-healthy lifestyle
- Smoking. Smoking, or even inhaling secondhand smoke, increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Being overweight. This makes it more likely that you'll develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. These conditions make a stroke more likely.
- Drinking too much alcohol. This means more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
- Not getting enough physical activity. If you aren't active, you have a higher risk of health conditions that make a stroke more likely.
- Not eating a heart-healthy diet. Heart-healthy eating includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. You limit things like sodium, alcohol, and sugar.
Risk factors you can't control
- Having had a previous stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack).
- Having a family history of stroke. Your chances of having a stroke are higher if other people in your family have had one.
- Being older. The risk of stroke goes up as you age.
- Being African American, Alaskan Native, Native American, or South Asian American.
- Being female. Women have a higher risk of stroke than men.
- Having certain problems during pregnancy. These include gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
- Being past menopause.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter R220 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Risk Factors for Stroke".
Current as of: December 19, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine