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Stroke Center

Stroke Risk Factors & Warning Signs

Everyone has some stroke risk.  Some risk factors are beyond your control, while changing other behaviors can help you to prevent a stroke.  Being aware of these risk factors and knowing the stroke symptoms and warning signs may save your life.

Risk Factors That Cannot Be Changed
Sex: In general, men are more prone to have a stroke than women.
Race: Native American, African Americans, Pacific/Islanders and Hispanics are at a higher risk of having a stroke than Caucasians.
Family History: Family history of stroke can increase the risk by 30%.
Age: The risk for stroke doubles for each decade after 55 years old.

Risk Factors That Can Be Changed, Treated or Controlled
Medical stroke risk factors include: previous stroke(s), previous episode(s) of transient ischemic attack (TIA), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease.  These medical risk factors can be controlled; talk to your doctor about what will work best for you.

Smoking, being overweight and drinking too much alcohol all constitute lifestyle risk factors.  These are risk factors that you can control and change, and by doing so can prevent a stroke long before it may ever happen.

Warning Signs/Symptoms

If you or someone you know has a stroke, time is your enemy.  The quicker you get to a hospital, the less damage the stroke can do to the brain.  Learning the symptoms and warning signs, recognizing them when you see them and acting FAST by calling 9-1-1 could save your life or the life of a loved one.

Common stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
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