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:
Your age. Risk of stroke goes up with age.
Your gender. Men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than women, except in older adults.
Your genes and race. If your parents had a stroke, you are at higher risk. African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans also have a higher risk.
Diseases such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, and some types of arthritis.
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.
Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Choose lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, beans and legumes.
Choose low-fat dairy products, such as 1% milk and other low-fat items.
Avoid sodium (salt) and fats found in fried foods, processed foods, and baked goods.
Eat fewer animal products and fewer foods with cheese, cream, or eggs.
Read food labels. Stay away from saturated fat and anything with partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats. These are unhealthy fats.
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;45:3754-3832. PMID 25355838 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25355838.
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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.