Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Risk Factors for Stroke
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Learning About Risk Factors for Stroke

What puts you at risk for having a stroke?

Your chances of having a stroke depend on your risk factors. Some risks can be lowered by medicines and lifestyle changes. Others can't.

This list includes some of the risk factors for having a stroke. You and your doctor or nurse can use it to discuss your risk and how to lower it. By making a plan to lower your risk, you can give yourself some control and peace of mind.

Risk factors you can control or change

High blood pressure.

It pushes blood through the arteries with too much force. Over time, this damages the walls of the arteries.

Atherosclerosis.

This problem is also called hardening of the arteries. It happens when fatty deposits build up inside arteries.

Diabetes.

This means that there's a problem in your body that causes sugar to stay in your blood. You end up with high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to hardening of the arteries.

High cholesterol.

This can lead to the buildup of plaque in artery walls.

Atrial fibrillation.

This is also known as an irregular heartbeat. It increases the risk of blood clots that could cause a stroke.

Sleep apnea.

This means that breathing stops for short periods during sleep.

Hormone therapy.

This includes taking hormone therapy for menopause or birth control pills with estrogen.

Risk factors you can control with lifestyle changes

Smoking.

Smoking, or even inhaling second-hand smoke, increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Being overweight.

Being overweight makes it more likely you will develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. These conditions make a stroke more likely.

Drinking too much alcohol.

If you're a man, this may mean more than 3 standard drinks a day on most days or more than 15 drinks a week. If you're a woman, this may mean more than 2 standard drinks a day on most days or more than 10 drinks a week.

Not getting enough physical activity.

If you aren't active, you have a higher risk of health conditions that make a stroke more likely.

Risk factors you can't control

Age.

The risk of stroke goes up as you get older.

Being female.

Women have a higher risk of stroke than men.

Being female.

Women have a higher risk of stroke than men.

Race.

Indigenous peoples and people of African or South Asian descent have a higher risk than those of other races.

Family history of stroke.

Your chances of having a stroke are higher if other people in your family have had one.

Previous stroke or TIA.

After you've had a stroke, you're at risk for another one.

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".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.