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  • Risk Factors

  • Knowing your risk is the key to prevention of stroke. By having regular medical checkups, you can learn about your risk factors. Some factors you can change or treat, and others you can't. By knowing your risk, you can focus on the factors you can change. Here is a list of risk factors you can change or treat:

    • High blood pressure. This is the single most important risk factor for stroke.  Know your blood pressure and have it checked at least annually.
    • Tobacco use. Don't smoke cigarettes or use other forms of tobacco.
    • Diabetes mellitus. While diabetes is treatable, having it increases your risk. Learn to manage diabetes.
    • Carotid or other artery disease. An artery damaged by fatty buildup or plaque inside the artery wall may become blocked by a blood clot, causing a stroke.
    • Transient ischemic attacks. These mini strokes produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting effects.  Recognizing TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
    • Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease. In atrial fibrillation the heart's upper chambers quiver rather than beating effectively.  This causes the blood to pool and clot, increasing the risk of stroke.
    • Certain blood disorders. A high red blood cell count makes clots more likely, raising the risk of stroke.
    • High blood cholesterol. This increases the risk clogged arteries.  If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked, a stroke results.
    • Physical inactivity and obesity. Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
    • Excessive alcohol intake. Drinking an average of more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks a day for men raises blood pressure.  Binge drinking can lead to stroke.
    • Illegal drug use. Intravenous drug abuse carries a high risk of stroke. Cocaine use also has been linked to stroke. 
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