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Stroke Risk Factors

The best way to prevent a stroke is to identify what factors increase your risk of having a stroke. There are two types of risk factors, those you can control and those you cannot control.

Uncontrollable stroke risk factors:

  • Age - Strokes can occur at any age, but two-thirds of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65
  • Gender - The incidence of stroke is slightly higher for women
  • Race - African Americans and Hispanics have a greater risk for stroke than other races
  • Family History - People who have a parent or sibling who has had a stroke are at a greater risk
  • Personal History of Diabetes – Having diabetes triples a person’s risk for having a stroke

Controllable stroke risk factors:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat
  • High Cholesterol
  • Previous Stroke or TIA
  • Smoking
  • Excessive Alcohol Intake
  • Excess Weight
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Illicit Drug Use - amphetamines, cocaine
  • Carotid Stenosis - The carotid arteries on either side of the neck can collect plaque and interrupt blood flow to the brain

Other stroke risk factors:

  • Blood Abnormalities - Sickle Cell, Leukemia, High Homocysteine, Polycythemia and others
  • Infectious Diseases - TB, Syphilis, Endocarditis, HIV and others
  • Inflammatory Diseases - Lupus, Vasculitis
  • High-dose Estrogen - especially with cigarette smoking, hypertension and migraine
  • Sleep Apnea – Patients who snore may have an increased risk for future strokes and heart attacks

How to Reduce the Risk of Stroke

The more of these risk factors you have, the more likely you are to have a stroke. Some of these risk factors can be treated or controlled, such as high blood pressure and smoking. Other risk factors, such as age and gender, can’t be controlled. That is why is it important to talk to a healthcare professional about ways to reduce your risk of a stroke.

For more information about controlling your risk factors or questions concerning stroke, contact us at 234.867.7957.

Effects of a Stroke


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.