There are a number manageable and non-manageable risk factors for stroke that you should be aware of. Making important life changes and knowing your family history can help you lower your overall chance of stroke.
Modifiable Risk Factors
- Alcohol consumption – More than one drink a day is associated with a higher risk of stroke.
- Being overweight or obese – If you’re overweight, you increase your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes – two risk factors for stroke.
- Coronary artery disease – The carotid arteries in your neck supply most of the blood to the brain. A damaged carotid artery filled with plaque may become blocked by a blood clot, leading to a stroke.
- Diabetes – Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to an increased risk of stroke due to damage of the blood vessels. Aim for an HbA1c of less than seven percent and a fasting blood sugar of 80-120 mg/dL.
- Heart disease – Many of the conditions associated with heart disease come with a high risk for stroke. Follow your treatment plan closely to control your risk for stroke.
- High cholesterol – Have your cholesterol checked. High “bad” cholesterol can increase your risk for stroke.
- High blood pressure – High blood pressure is a very significant risk factor for stroke. An ideal blood pressure for adults is 120/80 or below.
- Illegal drug use – Street drugs cause a number of issues, but among them is an increased risk for stroke.
- Smoking – Smoking is a leading cause of death in the United States. Smoking can also lead to a higher chance of a stroke. Simply put – if you smoke, quit, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
- Age – You can have a stroke at any age, but as you get older, your chances increase.
- Family history – If a grandparent, parent or sibling had a stroke, your chances of having one are higher.
- Gender – Men make up more than half of all strokes in the United States, but women make up more than half of all stroke deaths. Women that are pregnant or are taking birth control also have a higher chance of stroke.
- Race – African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have a higher chance of stroke than Caucasians.
- Prior stroke or heart attack – If you’ve already had a stroke or heart attack, your chance of a stroke is significantly higher.
Concerned about any of your risk factors? Speak with a doctor to help navigate your options to reduce your overall risk for stroke.
BE FAST to Spot a Stroke
With stroke, you need to BE FAST. Time is critical for a stroke victim. Each minute, two million brain cells die. Learn the signs of stroke, and use Sutter’s BE FAST materials to spread awareness.