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 or 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
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 man-made or infected heart valves. It may also happen because of a heart defect you were born with.
A very weak heart and some abnormal heartbeats can also cause blood clots.
Risk Factors You Can Change
Some risks for heart disease that you CAN change are:
Follow these guidelines and the advice of your doctor to lower your chances of stroke.
Goldstein LB, Bushnell CD, Adams RJ, Appel LJ, Braun LT, Chaturvedi S, et al. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2011 Feb;42(2):517-84. Epub 2010 Dec 2.
A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz.