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How likely am I to have a stroke?

Stroke risk factors you can't control

Some stroke risk factors cannot be controlled:

  • age: Strokes can happen at any age but are more common after 65.
  • gender: Men have a higher risk of stroke, while women's stroke risk goes up after menopause.
  • family history: Your stroke risk is higher if a close family member such as a parent, sibling, or child has had a stroke before age 65.
  • ethnic background: Strokes are more common in people of Indigenous, African, or South Asian ancestry.
  • personal history of a stroke or TIA: People who have already suffered a stroke in the past are at a much higher risk of having another stroke.

If you have some of these risk factors, don't be discouraged! Now that you know you are at risk, focus on the risk factors you can control.

Talk to your doctor to find out if you're at risk for a stroke, and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Stroke risk factors you can control

There are many stroke risk factors that you can control:

Lifestyle factors:

  • being overweight 
  • eating an unhealthy diet (low in fruits and vegetables and high in fat and sodium)
  • not getting enough exercise (this applies only to people whose doctor has given them approval to exercise. For these people, current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity spread out over each week. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or becoming more physically active)
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day or 10 drinks per week for women or more than 3 drinks per day or 15 drinks per week for men)
  • stress

Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help you reduce your stroke risk.

Medical conditions:

  • atrial fibrillation: causes an abnormal heartbeat, which makes blood pool and clot in the heart. These clots can move to the brain and cause a stroke.
  • diabetes: increases the risk of high blood pressure and damages the blood vessels, both of which can cause a stroke.
  • high blood pressure: damages blood vessels so they are more likely to clog up or burst, leading to a stroke.
  • high cholesterol: causes fatty deposits to build up in your blood vessels, which could block blood vessels in the brain and cause a stroke.

Getting these medical conditions under control can go a long way toward reducing the risk of a stroke.

Some people may have other risk factors for stroke. Talk to your doctor to find out if you're at risk of a stroke, and what you can do to reduce your risk.


All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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