There are certain risk factors for stroke that can be avoided, while there are others that you cannot control. Generally, if you lead a healthy lifestyle—with healthy eating habits and moderate exercise—you will ultimately lower your risk of stroke by lowering your risk of other conditions that could lead to stroke, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Risk Factors You Can Control

There are certain behaviors that can increase the risk of stroke. These include:

  • a sedentary lifestyle 
  • using estrogen (usually as a birth control or as part of hormone therapy) 
  • consuming large amounts of alcohol 
  • smoking cigarettes 
  • using stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamines or cocaine 
  • not properly managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular problems 
  • uncontrolled stress
  • eating high-fat, high-sodium foods

 

Risk Factors You Cannot Control

Some risk factors cannot be avoided or controlled. They include:

  • family history of cardiovascular problems, such as stroke or heart attack
  • age; being over the age of 55
  • gender; women tend to have more strokes than men
  • race; African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians have a higher stroke risk than other races

Learn ways to prevent a stroke on the Stroke Prevention page.