Risk Factors for Stroke


About risk factors: Risk factors for Stroke are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way. Having a risk factor for Stroke makes the chances of getting a condition higher but does not always lead to Stroke. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you against getting Stroke. For general information and a list of risk factors, see the risk center.

Risk factor list: The list of risk factors mentioned for Stroke in various sources includes:

Risk factor statistics for Stroke: The following are statistics from various sources about the risk factors for Stroke:

  • Risk for stroke amongst diabetics is two to four times higher than those without diabetes in the US (National Diabetes Statistics fact sheet, NIDDK, 2003)

Risk factors discussion: Stroke seems to run in some families. Family members may have a genetic tendency for stroke or share a lifestyle that contributes to stroke. The most important risk factors for stroke are hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and cigarette smoking. Other risks include heavy alcohol consumption, high blood cholesterol levels, illicit drug use, and genetic or congenital conditions. Some risk factors for stroke apply only to women. Primary among these are pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. 1

The risk of stroke is 2 to 4 times higher in people with diabetes. 2

Stroke risks are higher in people who have a family or personal history of stroke and for African Americans. African American women have a higher risk of disability and death from stroke than Caucasian women do. This is partly because more African American women have high blood pressure, a major stroke risk factor. Age is also a factor: the chance of having a stroke more than doubles for each decade of life after age 55. Women who smoke or who have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes are at greater risk of having a stroke. Hormonal changes with pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are also linked to an increased risk of stroke. 3

A stroke is a single, damaging attack, but the conditions or risk factors that lead to a stroke, such as high blood pressure, smoking, heart disease, and diabetes develop over many years.4

Moderate drinking can have beneficial effects on the heart, especially among those at greatest risk for heart attacks, such as men over the age of 45 and women after menopause. But long-term heavy drinking increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some kinds of stroke. 5

Risks factors for Stroke: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to risk factors for Stroke:

1. excerpt from NINDS Stroke Information Page: NINDS
2. excerpt from Diabetes Statistics in the United States: NIDDK
3. excerpt from Stroke: NWHIC
4. excerpt from Stroke Prevention and Treatment - Age Page - Health Information: NIA
5. excerpt from Alcohol What You Don't Know Can Harm You: NIAAA

Last revision: June 18, 2003

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