Knowing your risk for stroke is the first step in preventing stroke. You can change or treat some risk factors, but others you can’t. By having regular medical checkups and knowing your risk factors, you can focus on what you can change to lower your risk of stroke.
Modifiable risk factors you can change:
- high blood pressure - the force of the blood pushing against the sides of your arteries is consistently higher than it should be. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.
- diabetes - a condition in which the foods we eat cannot be properly used by the body for energy.
- high cholesterol - a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all of your body’s cells. Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke.
- tobacco use - if you are a smoker, your risk of heart disease is doubled, significantly increasing your risk for a stroke.
- poor diet - you can help reduce our risk of stroke by maintaining a healthy body weight and eating a well-balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in salt and saturated fat.
- physical inactivity and obesity - physical activity is as important as your diet in helping you lose weight and can also be a very empowering activity.
- illegal drug use
Non-modifiable risk factors that can’t be changed:
- prior stroke or TIA, or family history
- atrial fibrillation - the most common cardiac disease associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke.
- carotid artery disease - a narrowing of the main arteries supplying blood flow to the brain. Carotid artery stenosis occurs when there is a gradual buildup of plaque inside the blood vessel.
- heredity and race
- certain blood disorders