National Stroke Awareness Month: Risk Factors and Prevention

Stroke risk factors and prevention

This is the second blog in a three-part series about strokes.

In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month, we are sharing risk factors associated with strokes as well as how you can decrease your odds of having a stroke.

Stroke Risk Factors

As you get older, the likelihood of you having a stroke increases. But, no matter your age, race or sex, anyone can have a stroke at any time. There are several conditions, behaviors and other factors including family history that increase the risk of having a stroke. 

  • Conditions: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and sickle cell disease are all conditions that make you more susceptible to having a stroke. You can lower your risk by taking aspirin every day, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, and not smoking.
  • Behavior: Whether or not we like it, our lifestyle choices affect our chances of longevity. If you’re making poor lifestyle choices, you’re more likely to have a stroke. Behaviors such as having an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, drinking too much alcohol and tobacco use are all behaviors that increase your chances of having a stroke. Fortunately, these are all behaviors that can be reversed before it’s too late.
  • Other Factors: Of course, if someone in your family has had a stroke, the likelihood of you having one increases. You’re also more at risk if you’re a woman and if you’re Black, Hispanic or American Indian. 

Stroke Prevention

You can’t change your family history nor can you go back in time, but you can still lower your chances of having a stroke by doing the following things:

  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • If you’re obese or overweight, lose weight by exercising and lowering your caloric intake. We suggest consulting your doctor before starting any weight loss program.
  • Drink only in moderation.
  • If you’re diabetic, monitor and treat your diabetes by keeping your blood sugar under control.
  • Quit smoking.

There are many other preventative measures you can take to decrease your odds of having a stroke. Please consult your primary care physician for more information.

Visit our blog next week for part three of our series where we will share how strokes affect your heart.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes
Center for Disease Control
American Stroke Association
Harvard Health Publishing
Very Well Health