Stroke/TIA Risk Factors

The following is a list of stroke risk factors that can be changed, treated, or controlled.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension, is the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Appropriate treatment of high blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk of stroke.

Cigarette Smoking


Cigarette smoking is an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. The use of oral contraceptives, combined with cigarette smoking, greatly increases stroke risk. Quitting smoking now can significantly reduce your risk of future stroke. 

Diabetes Mellitus


Diabetes mellitus is an independent risk factor for stroke. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and are overweight.

Carotid or Other Artery Disease


The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot.


Atrial Fibrillation


Atrial Fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder, the heart quivers instead of beating effectively. This can lead to abnormal blood pooling and clotting. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.

Other Heart Diseases

People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally. 


High Blood Cholesterol


People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke. If your total cholesterol is elevated (greater than 200), you should talk to your doctor about ways to lower it. Diet, exercise, and medication can all be effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

Poor Diet


Diets high in saturated fat, trans-fat, and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure. Diets with excess calories can contribute to obesity. On the other hand, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke.

Physical Inactivity and Obesity


Being inactive, obese, or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. As little as thirty minutes of activity, three times a week can help reduce your risk of stroke.