Stroke Risk Factors and Prevention
While strokes are scary, you can assuage the fear of experiencing one by knowing your risk factors and incorporating stroke prevention tips into your lifestyle.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, risk factors are conditions that make a person more likely to suffer a stroke. General risk factors for stroke are things like:
- Age: Stroke risk increases with age, but young people can also have strokes.
- Race: In the United States, stroke risk is almost twice as high for black Americans as it is for white Americans. Hispanic Americans also have a greater stroke risk due to higher rates of risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes, with the AHA estimating age-adjusted incidence of first ischemic stroke to be nearly double for Hispanic Americans than for white Americans.
- Gender: One in five women in the US will have a stroke in her lifetime, and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for women in the country. For men in the US, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death.
- Family history of stroke: Having family history of stroke increases a person’s chances of having a stroke.
Prior TIA or stroke: People who have experienced a prior TIA or stroke are at a higher risk for stroke events in the future.
There are also treatable risk factors which include:
- Tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea, according to the Mayo Clinic
The CDC groups stroke prevention tips into two categories: living a healthy lifestyle and treating underlying health conditions. Healthy lifestyle choices include diet, weight management, exercise, and limiting your use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Treating health conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, and managing your diabetes will also help lower your risk.