Evaluating the risk for stroke is based on heredity, medical factors, natural processes such as age, and lifestyle. Many risk factors for stroke can be changed or managed, while others that relate to hereditary or natural processes cannot be changed.
High Blood Pressure
Often called the “silent killer,” high blood pressure has no symptoms. The only way to know if your blood pressure is high, is to have it checked. It’s recommended to have it checked at least every two years, and more often if there is a family history of high blood pressure.
A healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80. Blood pressure measures systolic and diastolic pressures of the heart. If systolic is more than 120 and diastolic is more than 80, then you are considered to have prehypertension or even high blood pressure. Work with your doctor to lower your blood pressure, either by medicine, diet or exercise.
Smoking puts people at a much higher risk for stroke. Even being around others who smoke can make someone more susceptible to stroke. Women who smoke and use birth control are at an even higher risk. The bottom line is to stop smoking. If you never started, don’t start.
Conditions Leading to Stroke
Some diseases and conditions can put someone at risk for a stroke. These include:
- Aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
- Carotid or other artery disease
- Atrial fibrillation
- Transient ischemic attack
- Sickle cell disease/sickle cell anemia
- High blood cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol or Illegal drug use