Stroke Risk Factors
Strokes come on suddenly and can be debilitating or even deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds – and someone dies every three to four minutes. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in our country.
Everyone has some risk of stroke. While some risk factors are beyond your control; by changing some behaviors, you can help 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 Americans, 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 your risk by 30 percent.
- Age: The risk for stroke doubles for each decade after 55 years of age.
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 for stroke. Fortunately, making simple lifestyle changes can help prevent a stroke. Losing weight, eating right, exercising, not smoking and only drinking in moderation can all positively impact your risk. Consult with your doctor and visit Live Healthy for free and low-cost classes to help you make those all-important lifestyle changes.