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How can I decrease my chances of having a stroke?

The American Heart association says, “knowing your risk is the key to prevention.” By having regular checkups with your health care provider you can learn about your risk factors for stroke. Some risk factors can be changed or treated and some risk factors cannot. Up to 80% of strokes are preventable through risk factor management.

Risk factors for stroke that can be changed:

  • High blood pressure: Most important risk factor for stroke; High blood pressure means that the pressure in your arteries is consistently in the high range. It can lead to heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke. Know your blood pressure and take your medication as prescribed by your health care provider.
  • Diabetes mellitus: Work with your doctor to manage diabetes through diet, exercise and medications.
  • Carotid or other artery disease: The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood and oxygen to your brain. A carotid artery damaged by a fatty build-up of plaque inside the artery wall may become blocked causing a stroke.
  • TIA’s: Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are stroke warning signs. Recognizing and treating the cause of a TIA can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
  • Tobacco use: Don’t smoke or use other forms of tobacco. Smoking doubles your risk of stroke.
  • High blood cholesterol: High blood cholesterol increases the risk of clogged arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes clogged a stroke will result.
  • Physical inactivity and obesity: Being inactive or obese can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Include exercise in your daily routine.
Risk factors you can’t control:
  • Increasing age: Strokes affects people of all ages but the older you are the greater the risk.
  • Gender: More men than women have strokes but more women than men will die from stroke.
  • Heredity and race: People whose blood relations had a stroke have higher risk of stroke themselves. African Americans have higher risk of death and disability from stroke than whites. Hispanic Americans are also at higher risk of stroke.
  • Prior stroke: People who have had a stroke are at higher risk of having another.