Risk Factors for Stroke

Certain health and lifestyle issues—called risk factors—increase your chances of having a stroke. The leading risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. But there are many other factors that also put you at risk. This page helps you identify which risk factors you have. That way, you know where you need to make healthy changes. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to help reduce your risk factors.

What are your risk factors?

Risk factors are different for each person. Check next to the factors that apply to you. Keep in mind that some factors, such as your age, can’t be changed. But others can be managed.

Health risk factors

_______ You have high blood pressure.

_______ You’re overweight.

_______ You have unhealthy cholesterol levels.

_______ You have atrial fibrillation.

_______ You have atrial flutter.

_______ You’ve had a heart attack.

_______ You have narrowed arteries.

_______ You have diabetes.

_______ You are a man.

_______ You are an African-American, Alaska Native, or American Indian.

Lifestyle risk factors

_______ You rarely exercise.

_______ You often eat salty, fried, or greasy foods.

_______ You smoke.

_______ You have more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day.

Age and family history

_______ You’re over age 60.

_______ A parent, brother, or sister has had a stroke.

Metabolic syndrome raises risk

Any of the factors above puts you at increased risk of stroke. But having 3 or more of certain risk factors (a condition called metabolic syndrome) multiplies your risk. These factors include too much weight around your waist, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. If you're a woman, your risks may also include polycystic ovary syndrome. If you have any of these risk factors, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about how to decrease your risk of stroke and improve your overall health.