Risk FactorsRisk factors for stroke include high blood pressure (the most important risk factor), atrial fibrillation, increasing age, personal or family history of stroke, transient ischemic attacks, carotid artery disease, and a high red blood cell count.^8^
All risk factors for heart disease also increase the risk of stroke; many of which can be modified by adopting lifestyle changes or by treating or addressing health factors. Modifiable risk factors for stroke and heart disease include behaviors (e.g., tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and improper nutrition) and health status (e.g., untreated hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, blood clotting disorders, hyperlipidemia, overweight/obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, and psychosocial stress).^9^ Those who practice a healthy lifestyle have an 80% lower risk of a first stroke compared with those who do not.^8^ Substantial differences in risk and preventive factors exist by race, age, sex, place of residence, and other demographic factors.
Approximately 77% of those who have a first stroke have a blood pressure >140/90 mm Hg. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) increases the risk of having a stroke by nearly 5 times and AFib related strokes kill nearly twice as frequently as non-AFib strokes.^9^
Current smokers have a 2 to 4 times increased risk of stroke compared with nonsmokers or those who have quit for >10 years.^10^[[br]]
2. Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, Arnett DK, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics-2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2015;131:e29-e322.
8. American Heart Association. What are the risk factors of stroke? [http://www.strokeassociation.org]. Accessed September 15, 2015.
9. Chiuve SE, Rexrode KM, Spiegelman D, Logroscino G, Manson JE, Rimm EB. Primary prevention of stroke by healthy lifestyle. Circulation 2008;118:947-54.
10. Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke 1991;22:983-22.
Related Risk Factors Indicators: