Risks of Stroke

Reduce your chances of stroke with the tips below

Stroke Risk Factors

Preventing Strokes

Risk factors are things about you or lifestyle habits that increase the risk of disease. While you cannot control your age, gender or heredity, many of the risk factors for stroke are manageable. And, since most of the risk factors for stroke are the same as for heart disease, you really get double the benefit by reducing your stroke risks.

Risk factors that increase your chance of developing a stroke include:

  • Alcohol/drug/tobacco abuse
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • History of TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attack or "mini-stroke")
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tobacco use

It is important that people with risk factors for stroke or heart disease to work with their health care providers to improve their risks. For example, if you have high blood cholesterol, a change in diet or medications can improve your cholesterol level and reduce your risk of stroke. Work with your health care provider to reduce or control as many risk factors as you can.

What Can I Do on My Own?

It used to be believed that if you have a history of stroke in your family, you were destined to have a stroke. This is not necessarily true. While there may be a genetic component to heart disease and stroke, there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk factors. Some are easier than others. You should check with your health care provider to help you identify your risks for stroke and to help you reduce those risks.

The following are some things you can do on your own:

Don't use tobacco. Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of serious illness such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic lung disease.

Be physically active. Physical activity can reduce blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol, help with weight loss, and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Eat healthy foods. Foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol contribute to atherosclerosis, a primary cause of heart attack and stroke. Lots of salt in the diet can also make high blood pressure worse for some people.

Watch your weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for stroke. Work with your health care provider to find a healthy approach to weight lossthat will work for you, improve your health and reduce your risks for stroke.

Avoid excessive alcohol. Too much of anything is not good for you. While one or two drinks may be beneficial in increasing "good" HDL cholesterol, too much alcohol can contribute to high blood pressure, excess weight and diabetes.

Stroke Survivor Support Group

The Gloucester Stroke Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 10:30 – 11:30 am. The group is held free of charge and pre-registration is not necessary.

For more information, please call 978-922-3000 ext. 2235 or email Diana Gertsch.

Stroke Survivorship Garden

Stroke Survivorship Garden

Act Fast, Call 911

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you have a life-threatening illness or injury.