A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to have a ]]>stroke]]> without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of having a stroke. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for stroke include:

  • Poor diet— A diet that is high in trans fat, saturated fat, and low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber increases your risk of having a stroke.
  • ]]>Smoking]]>—Smokers are at higher risk of stroke than people who do not smoke. This is one of the greatest modifiable risk factors for stroke.
  • Lack of physical activity—People who do not get moderate exercise regularly are at increased risk of having a stroke.
  • ]]>Drug use]]>—Use of drugs, particularly ]]>cocaine]]> and amphetamines, increases your risk for stroke.
  • Medical conditions— The following medical conditions increase your risk of having a stroke:
  • Age—Your risk of having a stroke increases as you age. Risk for stroke after a heart attack has been shown to be elevated for people over age 75.
  • Gender—Earlier in life, men are at higher risk of stroke than women. But, women’s risk catches up to men’s risk about 10 years after ]]>menopause]]>.
  • Genetic Factors—Certain inherited traits may put a person at increased risk for stroke. Your risk of stroke is higher if a family member has had a stroke. But, this risk factor is minimal in relation to the other risk factors.
  • Ethnic Background—African Americans are more likely to have hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes. This may be due to a higher incidence of high blood pressure among African Americans. This risk is also minimal in relation to the other risk factors.