Stroke Risk Factors

Anyone can have a stroke. But your chances for having a stroke increase if you meet certain criteria. Some of these criteria, called risk factors, are beyond your control such as being over age 55, being male, being African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander, or having a family history of stroke. Other stroke risk factors are controllable. If you have one of these risk factors, it is even more important that you learn about the lifestyle and medical changes you can make to prevent a stroke.

Medical stroke risk factors include:

  • Previous stroke
  • Previous episode of transient ischemic attack or "TIA" 
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Carotid artery disease
  • These medical risk factors can be controlled. Talk with your doctor about what will work best for you.

To reduce your risk for stroke:

  • Know your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure (good blood pressure is 120/80), work with your doctor to lower it.
  • Find out from your doctor if you have atrial fibrillation.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking doubles your risk for stroke.
  • Only drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Find out if you have high cholesterol; if so, work with you doctor to control it.
  • If you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Practice a diet low in sodium and fat.
  • Ask you doctor how you can lower your risk for stroke.

Are you at risk for a stroke?

StrokeAware health assessment

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of long-term disability. Take a quick quiz to find out your risk.