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Stroke Risk Factors

Every 45 seconds someone in America has a stroke. It is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability, and the No. 3 killer of Americans; 28% of stroke victims are under the age 65.

The good news is that you can control your risk of stroke to a great extent. While heredity is the cause of some strokes, studies show that up to 80% of strokes can be prevented by reducing your personal risk factors.

How can I decrease my chance of having a stroke?quitsmokingmed

  • Control your blood pressure: This is the most manageable factor. Readings higher than 115/75mm Hg put you at greater risk. Your doctor will help you set a target blood pressure.
  • Stop smoking: It nearly doubles your risk for ischemic stroke. Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases your risk.
  • Manage diabetes: While treatable, it raises your risk by two to four times.  Follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet, exercise and medication.
  • Control high cholesterol: Your total should be under 200. High cholesterol leads to heart disease, which is the major cause of death among stroke survivors.  Follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet, exercise and medication.
  • Increase physical activity: Lack of exercise raises your risk and can lead to weight gain and obesitym - both are major causes of stroke. Your body mass index should be below 25.
  • Limit alcohol and drug use: More than two drinks per day raise blood pressure.  Use of cocaine and meth-amphetamines can lead to strokes and heart attacks. 

How can I decrease my chance of having a second stroke?coupleonbikesmed

  • In addition to managing the factors listed above, work with your doctor to establish your personal dietary and exercise guidelines and to learn about medications that may contribute to your improved health.
  • If you have an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, your doctor can prescribe medication to decrease the chance of blood clots forming in your heart.