Stroke - risk factors
A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack." If blood flow is cut off for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get nutrients and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing lasting damage.
Risk factors are things that increase your chance of getting a disease or condition. This article discusses the risk factors for stroke and things you can do to lessen your risk.
Preventing stroke; Stroke - prevention; CVA - prevention; TIA - prevention
What is a Risk Factor?
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:
Blood clots from the heart may travel to the brain and cause a stroke. This may happen in people with manmade or infected heart valves. It may also happen because of a heart defect you were born with.
A very weak heart and abnormal heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation, can also cause blood clots.
Risk Factors you can Change
Some risk factors for stroke that you can change are:
Birth control pills can raise your risk of blood clots. Clots are more likely in women who also smoke and who are older than 35.
Good nutrition is important to your heart health. It will help control some of your risk factors.
Your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or another blood thinner to help prevent blood clots from forming. DO NOT take aspirin without talking to your doctor first. If you are taking these medicines, take steps to prevent yourself from falling or tripping, which can lead to bleeding.
Follow these guidelines and the advice of your doctor to lower your chances of stroke.
Meschia JF, Bushnell C, Boden-Albala B, et al, American Heart Association Stroke Council; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology; Council on Hypertension. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2014;45(12):3754-3832. PMID 25355838 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25355838.
Review Date: 2/23/2017
Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.