What Is a Risk Factor?
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or health problem. Some risk factors for stroke you cannot change. Some you can. Changing the risk factors that you have control over will help you live a longer, healthier life.
Risk Factors You Cannot Change
You cannot change these stroke risk factors:
- Your age. Risk of stroke goes up with age.
- Your gender. Men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than women, except in older adults.
- Your genes and race. If your parents had a stroke, you are at higher risk. African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans also have a higher risk.
- Diseases such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, and some types of arthritis.
- Weak areas in an artery wall or abnormal arteries and veins.
- Pregnancy. Both during and in the weeks right after the pregnancy.
Blood clots from the heart may travel to the brain and cause a stroke. This may happen in people with manmade or infected heart valves. It may also happen because of a heart defect you were born with.
A very weak heart and abnormal heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation, can also cause blood clots.