Stroke Risk Factors

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What are Stroke Risk Factors?

Stroke risk factors can be broken down into ischemic stroke risk factors and hemorrhagic stroke risk factors. Within these two broad classes of stroke risk factors are those that are controllable and those that are not.

Stroke Risk Factors

Ischemic Stroke

  • Uncontrollable Risk Factors

Risk factors that cannot be controlled include age, race, male gender, ethnicity, history of migraine headaches, sickle cell disease, fibromuscular dysplasia, and family history of stroke.

  • Controllable Risk Factors

Risk factors that can (and should) be controlled include high blood pressure (the most important), cardiac disease (atrial fibrillation, valvular disease, structural issues), carotid stenosis, history of TIA’s, elevated homocysteine levels, diabetes, high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol, smoking or other forms of tobacco use, high alcohol intake, illicit drug use (especially cocaine and amphetamines), obesity, lack of exercise, and oral contraceptive use.

 

Hemorrhagic Stroke

  • Uncontrollable Risk Factors

Risk factors that cannot be controlled include age, previous history of stroke, certain systemic diseases (clotting problems, liver disease, etc), brain tumors, and other congenital/genetic issues (aneurysms, blood vessel abnormalities, etc).

  • Controllable Risk Factors

Risk factors that can (and should) be controlled include high blood pressure (the most important), use of blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, etc), high alcohol intake, illicit drug use (especially cocaine and amphetamines), and traumatic injury.

EMG Health Homepage: Men’s Health Introduction

External Resources: NIH: Stroke Risk Factors

1. Jauch EC. Ischemic Stroke. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1916852-overview: Medscape Reference; 2012.
2. Lebieskind DS. Hemorrhagic Stroke. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1916662-overview: Medscape Reference; 2012.