Everyone has some stroke risk. Some risk factors, according to the National Stroke Association, are beyond our control, including age, sex, race, diabetes, and family history. If you have one of these risk factors, it is even more important to learn about the lifestyle and medical changes you can make to prevent a stroke.
Medical conditions that increase stroke risk include previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA or "mini stroke"), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, carotid artery disease, and diabetes. These factors can be controlled and managed, even if you have already had issues with any of them in the past. Talk with your doctor about what will work best for you.
Lifestyle factors that contribute to stroke risk include smoking, being overweight, and drinking too much alcohol. You can control these lifestyle risk factors by quitting smoking, exercising regularly, watching what and how much you eat, and limiting alcohol consumption.
A family history of stroke increases the chance you will have one, too. Age is also a factor. The older you are, the more likely you are to have a stroke. Men, especially among African-Americans and Hispanics, are at the greatest risk.