Controlling Stroke Risk Factors

Strokes occur when the blood supply to a portion of your brain is interrupted or reduced. The diseases that affect the brain and its blood vessels are called “cerebrovascular disease “.  Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability worldwide.  It’s been estimated that one in 6 people will have a stroke of some kind during their lifetime.  The good news is that more than 80% of all strokes can be prevented.  All it takes is early identification and treatment of known risk factors associated with stroke.


The most common cause of stroke is plaque buildup and hardening of blood vessels feeding the brain in the form of atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis takes many years to develop.  Stroke is an end result of that, usually occurs later in life.  Some of the risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure (greater than 140/90), type 2 diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, enlarged heart (LVH), smoking, and history of previous heart attack or stroke.  Atrial fibrillation is also a common risk factor for stroke that is not due to atherosclerosis.


We use the risk assessment guidelines in this spirit as a way to highlight your personal risk factors so you can choose appropriate lifestyle changes.  This evaluation is not a replacement for clinical judgment from your health provider.


Because the potential for stroke increases with age, you should assess your risk regularly.  We suggest running the assessment every 4-6 years if your 10-year stroke risk is low (=<7.5%), and every 1-3 years if your 10-year risk is high (>7.5%).

You can read more about the impact of each individual risk factor by clicking on the links below. There is no guarantee that controlling all the risk factors identified will prevent a stroke, but there is a better chance that it may be avoided. 


Refer to each of the specific risk factors below.