Stroke Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for having a stroke.  Some of these cannot be decreased through lifestyle changes, but many can.

Risk factors that CANNOT be changed

  • Age
  • Family History of Stroke
  • History of Stroke or TIA
  • Race
  • Sex

Risk factors that CAN be changed

  • Artery Disease
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure / Hypertension
  • High Cholesterol
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Inactivity
    Decreasing overall inactivity has a beneficial impact on multiple risk factors. Increasing the heart rate 1-3 times per week for about 30 minutes is enough to decrease the risk of stroke.
  • Obesity
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Smoking
    Independently doubles the risk of ischemic strokes, and increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by 2-4 times. Smoking may make other risk factors worse, and has both short term (nicotine tightens arteries) and long term (chronically narrows arteries) effects.

Lifestyle Changes that Can Lead to Fewer Risk Factors
This is not a complete list, and should not be substituted for medical advice. Discuss personal lifestyle changes, and any questions or concerns, with your primary care physician.

  • Prevent or control high blood pressure
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
  • Get quality sleep
  • Be physically active/Get regular exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Restrict salt consumption
  • Control blood sugar
  • Manage cholesterol
  • Decrease or limit alcohol consumption (no more than 2 drinks per day in men, or 1 drink per day in women)