Stroke risk factorsPreventing stroke; Stroke - prevention; CVA - prevention; TIA - prevention
A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain suddenly stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack or cerebrovascular accident." If blood flow is cut off for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get nutrients and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing lasting damage.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack. " If blood flow is cut off for longer th...
Risk factors are things that increase your chance of getting a disease or condition. This article discusses the risk factors for stroke and things you can do to lessen your risk.
What is a Risk Factor?
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or health problem. Some risk factors for stroke you cannot change. Some you can. Changing the risk factors that you have control over will help you live a longer, healthier life.
Risk Factors you Cannot Change
You cannot change these stroke risk factors:
- Your age. Risk of stroke goes up with age.
- Your sex. Men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than women, except in older adults.
- Your genes and race. If your parents had a stroke, you are at higher risk. African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans also have a higher risk.
- Diseases such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, and some types of arthritis.
Weak areas in an artery wall or abnormal arteries and veins.
Weak areas in an artery wall
An aneurysm is a weak area in the wall of a blood vessel that causes the blood vessel to bulge or balloon out. When an aneurysm occurs in a blood ve...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Pregnancy. Both during and in the weeks right after the pregnancy.
Blood clots from the heart may travel to and block the blood vessels in the brain and cause a stroke. This may happen in people with manmade or infected heart valves. It may also happen because of a heart defect you were born with.
A very weak heart and abnormal heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation, can also cause blood clots.
Atrial fibrillation or flutter is a common type of abnormal heartbeat. The heart rhythm is fast and most often irregular.
Risk Factors you can Change
Some risk factors for stroke that you can change are:
- Not smoking. If you do smoke, quit. Ask your doctor for help quitting.
Controlling your cholesterol through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
Controlling your cholesterol
Your body needs cholesterol to work well. But cholesterol levels that are too high can harm you. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Controlling high blood pressure through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed. Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be.
- Controlling diabetes through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
- Exercising at least 30 minutes every day.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. Eat healthy foods, eat less, and join a weight loss program, if you need to lose weight.
- Limiting how much alcohol you drink. Women should have no more than 1 drink a day, and men no more than 2 a day.
- DO NOT use cocaine and other recreational drugs.
Birth control pills can raise your risk of blood clots. Clots are more likely in women who also smoke and who are older than 35.
Good nutrition is important to your heart health. It will help control some of your risk factors.
A healthy diet is a major factor in reducing your risk for heart disease.
- Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Choose lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans and legumes.
- Choose low-fat dairy products, such as 1% milk and other low-fat items.
- Avoid sodium (salt) and fats found in fried foods, processed foods, and baked goods.
- Eat fewer animal products and fewer foods with cheese, cream, or eggs.
- Read food labels. Stay away from saturated fat and anything with partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats. These are unhealthy fats.
Your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or another blood thinner to help prevent blood clots from forming. DO NOT take aspirin without talking to your doctor first. If you are taking these medicines, take steps to prevent yourself from falling or tripping, which can lead to bleeding.
Prevent yourself from falling or trippi...
Older adults and people with medical problems are at risk of falling or tripping. This can result in broken bones or more serious injuries. Use the ...
Follow these guidelines and the advice of your doctor to lower your chances of stroke.
Meschia JF, Bushnell C, Boden-Albala B, et al, American Heart Association Stroke Council; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology; Council on Hypertension. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2014;45(12):3754-3832. PMID 25355838 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25355838.
Riegel B, Moser DK, Buck HG, et al; American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. Self-care for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and stroke: a scientific statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(9). pii: e006997. PMID: 28860232 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28860232.
Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high bood pressure in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(19):e127-e248. PMID: 29146535 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29146535.
Review Date: 3/24/2019
Reviewed By: Alireza Minagar, MD, MBA, Professor, Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.