Stroke risk factors and prevention


A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack."

A risk factor is something about you that increases your chance of getting a disease or having a certain health condition. Some risk factors for stroke you cannot change, but some you can. Changing risk factors that you do control will help you live a longer, healthier life.

See also:

Alternative Names

Stroke prevention; Preventing strokes


Risk Factors You Cannot Change

Blood clots from the heart may travel to the brain and cause a stroke. This may happen in people with man-made or infected heart valves or in certain heart defects you were born with. Other causes of blood clots are a very weak heart and some abnormal heartbeats,

Risk Factors You Can Change

You can change some risk factors for stroke, by taking the following steps:

Good nutrition is important to your heart health and will help control some of your stroke risk factors.

Read labels, and stay away from "saturated fat" and anything that contains "partially-hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated" fats. These products are usually loaded with unhealthy fats.

Your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or another drug called clopidogrel (Plavix) to help prevent blood clots from forming. DO NOT take aspirin without talking to your doctor first.

If you are taking these drugs or other blood thinners, you should take steps to prevent yourself from falling or tripping.

Follow these guidelines and the advice of your doctor to lower your chances of stroke.


Goldstein LB, Bushnell CD, Adams RJ, Appel LJ, Braun LT, Chaturvedi S, et al. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2011 Feb;42(2):517-84. Epub 2010 Dec 2.

Review Date: 4/30/2011
Reviewed By: Kevin Sheth, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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