Stroke Risk Factors – Making simple lifestyle changes can save your life

by Sarah Szul, Health Management Coordinator

About 700,000 Americans have strokes each year, and 150,000 of them will die as a result. There are approximately 5.7 million stroke survivors in the United States today, many of whom suffered permanent disability caused by their stroke.

Although strokes are the third most frequent cause of death in the United States, the good news is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be prevented if people make lifestyle choices that help them maintain good health.

Some stroke factors can be controlled; others can’t. Here are some key risk factors that you should be aware of:


  • Age – Once you turn 55, your risk of stroke practically doubles every decade.
  • Family and personal history – If a close family member has had a stroke, or if you have had a stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attack, a small stroke that causes little or no damage), or heart attack, your stroke risk is increased.
  • Other health conditions –  High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and sickle cell anemia are all factors that increase your risk for stroke.
  • Your lifestyle – Smoking cigarettes, eating a high-fat and/or high-sodium diet, being obese, and not getting enough exercise can all increase your chances of having a stroke. So quit the nic, get moving and eat a low fat, low sodium diet!
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