Are You at Risk for Stroke? – 10 Risk Factors

In the United States, someone has a stroke once every 40 seconds. Even worse, every four minutes, one of those strokes proves fatal. For this reason, it’s critical to know potential risk factors for a stroke, which include the following…

10. Age

Miniature people and the concept of an aging society.
Hyejin Kang/

The risk of a stroke doubles every 10 years after the age of 55. In other words, the older we get, the higher this risk becomes.

It’s important to point out that even young people can suffer from a stroke, so no one is entirely exempt from it.

Another risk factor that is beyond our control is in our DNA… 

9. Genetics

Genetic engineering and digital technology concept.

Our genetics determine a massive portion of our personal health. These conditions include sickle cell disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and even stroke.

There is another family-related risk factor to strokes, too…

8. Family History

Happy Asian family laying on bed in bedroom with happy and smile, top view

We share more than just DNA with our family; we also share environments, traditions, and even eating habits with the people who raise us. All of these factors can add to the risk of a stroke. Growing up in an active or inactive household, eating certain foods from an early age, and how your family treats medical concerns can all play into your risk of having a stroke. People that grew up with families that practiced healthier habits often have a lower risk of stroke than those who did not.

Another risk factor beyond our control is the following… 

7. Biological Sex

Female hormones estrogen: estradiol, estriol and progesterone and male hormone testosterone. Gender signs from pills on yellow background. Anabolic.

Cisgender women are not only more likely to have a stroke, but they are also more likely to die from a stroke than cisgender men. Two clear aspects of this risk are pregnancy and birth control pills. Taking hormonal birth control pills and becoming pregnant dramatically shift hormone levels, which can contribute to stroke and heart health problems. 

Your medical history can also increase your stroke risk…

6. A Previous Stroke

Doctor check up x-ray film of the brain by ct scan brain at patient room hospital.
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Already having had a stroke significantly increases your risk of having another one in the future. The risk of having a stroke compounds with each additional stroke, especially because strokes damage the body.

Another serious risk factor that can cause a stroke is… 

5. High Blood Pressure 

Close-up Of Doctor Measuring Patients Blood Pressure With Stethoscope

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of stroke, particularly because it causes strain on the interior walls of the blood vessels and arteries.

The following increases the odds of experiencing both stroke and high blood pressure… 

4. High Cholesterol

Clogged Artery with platelets and cholesterol plaque, concept for health risk for obesity or dieting and nutrition problems

Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by the liver, and it is vital to the proper functioning of the body. Our livers produce enough cholesterol for our daily needs, although we also get additional cholesterol from our diets.

Extra cholesterol can build up in the body’s circulatory system, which includes the arteries and blood vessels in the brain. If the buildup becomes too high, blood flow to the brain can become blocked, which leads to a stroke. 

Another common cause of stroke is one of the most common health problems in the United States… 

3. Heart Disease

Man having chest pain, heart attack - black and white photo

Heart disease is incredibly common in the United States, and according to the CDC, it causes roughly one in every 4 deaths in the country. Heart disease happens when plaque builds up in the arteries. This buildup can ultimately block blood flow to the brain. Other common causes of heart disease, such as smoking cigarettes, can create blood clots that also increase the risk of a stroke.

Fortunately, there are plenty of risk factors for both stroke and heart disease that are controllable, such as the following… 

2. Inactivity

Hand turns dice and changes the word "inactive" to "active".

A lack of adequate physical exercise is a leading risk factor for a variety of medical conditions, including strokes. A body that doesn’t get enough physical activity can develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, all of which are stroke risk factors on their own.

Just like physical activity, the following is a controllable risk factor for stroke…

1. Diet

Healthy and unhealthy food background from fruits and vegetables vs fast food, sweets and pastry top view. Diet and detox against calorie and overweight lifestyle concept.
Julia Sudnitskaya/

What we eat shapes our health. Diets high in sugary foods, fatty foods, and cholesterol all increase risk for stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and many other serious health conditions. While indulging every now and again is typically fine, consistently eating poorly can have disastrous health outcomes.

If you are concerned about lowering your risk of having a stroke, you should talk with your licensed medical provider.


Celeb Facts - Celebs Who Struggled With Student Loans

  1. Author Cheryl Strayed has a best-selling memoir, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," and was portrayed by Reese Witherspoon in the film. Before selling her memoir, she and her husband were $85,000 in credit card debt and still had student loans. She used a portion of the advance and paid off her debt.
  2. Before Kerry Washington became the ultimate fixer on the hit show Scandal, she sent her monthly loan checks like the average former student. There were no regrets, however. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Washington shared that she wouldn't have been able to get her education without them.
  3. While starring in hit movies, Actor Miles Teller was still paying off student loan debt from college. In an interview with Vulture, Teller said his business manager advised him the interest was so low, he didn't need to pay them off quickly. To decide if it's better to pay off your loans or invest, look at a student loan payoff versus investment calculator.
  4. Grey's Anatomy" star Kate Walsh struggled financially when younger. She worked at fast-food joints and attended the University of Arizona. She told Refinery29, I am a person who came out of college with... , just thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. She finally paid her debts off at 37 when her acting career became successful.
  5. Don Draper was making bank as a fancy ad man, but the Mad Men actor, Jon Hamm, was 33 before paying off his student loans. I went to three universities in four years, Hamm told a crowd of students at a political rally. It wasn't until he started working regularly he could pay them down.

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