How do I know if I am at risk of stroke?

Some people run greater risk of stroke than others. Many factors contribute to the incidence and severity of strokes. Some of these factors you can change. Others, you cannot change.

Risk factors you cannot change:

  • Age: People over 55 years of age are more likely to have strokes.
  • Gender: Men have a 19% greater chance of stroke than women do.
  • Race: African Americans have more strokes than white Americans do.
  • Diabetes: People diagnosed with diabetes (blood sugar) are at higher risk of a stroke.
  • Prior stroke(s): Having had a prior stroke increases your chances of another one.
  • Heredity: If a family member has had a stroke, your chance of having one is greater.

Risk factors you can change:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Use of birth control pills over the age of 30
  • Excess weight
  • Poor diet
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Drug abuse

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Written by: Janice C. May, M.P.A.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Thursday March 28, 2019 3:33 PM