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Cause of Stroke


The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of having a stroke. The best way to prevent a stroke is to reduce your stroke risk factors.

What risk factors for stroke can be controlled or treated?

  • High blood pressure  — High blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg or higher) is the most important risk factor for stroke. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Tobacco use  — Cigarette smoking is a major, preventable risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood. They also damage the walls of blood vessels, making clots more likely to form. Using some kinds of birth control pills combined with smoking cigarettes greatly increases stroke risk.
  • Diabetes mellitus  — Diabetes is defined as a fasting plasma glucose (blood sugar) of 126 mg/dL or more measured on two occasions. While diabetes is treatable, having it still increases a person's risk of stroke. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more.
  • Carotid or other artery disease  — The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis.
  • Atrial fibrillation  — This heart rhythm disorder raises the risk for stroke. The heart's upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, which can let the blood pool and clot. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.
  • Other heart disease  — People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally.
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)  — TIAs are "warning strokes" that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. It's very important to recognize the warning signs of a TIA or stroke.
  • Certain blood disorders  —  A high red blood cell count thickens the blood and makes clots more likely. This raises the risk of stroke.
  • High blood cholesterol  — A high level of total cholesterol in the blood (240 mg/dL or higher) is a major risk factor for heart disease, which raises your risk of stroke.
  • Physical inactivity and obesity  — Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Excessive alcohol  — Drinking an average of more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or more than two drinks a day for men can raise blood pressure and may increase risk for stroke.







What are the risk factors for stroke you can't change?

  • Increasing age  — People of all ages, including children, have strokes. But the older you are, the greater your risk for stroke.
  • Sex (gender)  — Stroke is more common in men than in women. In most age groups, more men than women will have a stroke in a given year. However, women account for more than half of all stroke deaths. Women who are pregnant have a higher stroke risk. So do women taking birth control pills who also smoke or have high blood pressure or other risk factors.

  • Heredity (family history) — Your stroke risk is greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke.
  • Prior stroke or heart attack  — Someone who has had a stroke is at much higher risk of having another one. If you've had a heart attack, you're at higher risk of having a stroke, too.

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