- Increasing age. The older you get, the more likely you are to have a stroke.
- Gender. Men have a greater risk of stroke than women; however, more women than men die of stroke.
- Heredity and Race. Your risk of stroke is greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had stroke. African Americans have a much higher risk than Caucasians do, in part because they have a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
- Family history of stroke. Just as you can't control your age, sex and race, you can’t control your family history. If your brother, father, mother or sister have had a stroke, the risk is greater that you may have one. If you’ve had a stroke, you’re at a much higher risk of having another one.
Stroke Risk Factors
Know your risks and what you can and cannot control
Risk factors are traits and lifestyle habits that increase your risk of stroke. Some risk factors can be controlled, others cannot. In addition, there are specific risks to different demographic groups, including: Children, Women and African Americans. While there are risk factors that you cannot control, there are also risk factors that you can control.
Learn about risk factors that you can control as well as those that you cannot control. By paying close attention to these factors, you may be able to reduce your risk for stroke.
Risk factors you cannot control
Medical risk factors to control
Lifestyle risk factors to control
African Americans and Stroke
African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with Caucasians, and African Americans aged 35–54 years old have four times the relative risk for stroke. This means that African Americans are affected by stroke more than any other group. In addition, one half of all African American women will die from stroke or heart disease.
Several factors increase the risk for stroke. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of having a stroke. You can’t control some factors, but you can modify, treat or control others to lower your risk.
Not all of the reasons are clear but some factors include a higher rate of the following:
- High blood pressure. This is the number one risk factor for stroke and 1 in 3 African Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher stroke risk.
- Sickle cell anemia. This is a genetic disorder that mainly affects African Americans. “Sickled” red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs and tend to stick to blood vessel walls. This can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke.
- Obesity. African Americans have a higher incidence of obesity than Caucasians.
- Smoking. African Americans also have a higher incidence of smoking than Caucasians.
You can change many conditions through diet and exercise, others may need medication. The best defense is knowledge. Talk to your doctor to find out if you have any of these health risks. You don’t have to be a statistic! Be aware of your risk factors and work with your doctor to reduce, control or prevent as many risk factors as you can.