Any one is at risk for having a stroke!

The biggest risk factor for having a stroke is a high uncontrolled blood pressure. An abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (aFib) can also drastically increase the risk for a stroke.

However, most strokes don’t not have a single cause, but rather many factors than together increase the chance of heart disease and eventually results in heart disease. These factors that do not directly results in a stroke but contribute to its development are called risk factors. The more risk factors you have, and the more serious the individual ones are, the greater the chance of a stroke. Risk factors for heart disease and strokes after similar as most of the cause the blood vessels to narrow, stiffen and weaken.

Atrial fibrillation

a Fib increases the risk of potentially disabling or deadly ischaemic stroke by nearly 500 %.

(rest collapsible) Atrial fibrillation or aFib is the most common sustained abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. This dangerous arrhythmia causes the two upper chambers of the heart to quiver instead of beating effectively, resulting in blood not being completely pumped out, which in turn causes pooling and can lead to clotting. These clots can travel to the brain, block an artery and interrupt the brain's blood supply. This can trigger a major and often fatal stroke.

Watch a visual explanation of aFib from the American Heart Association.

Uncontrollable risk factors

Some risk factors are out of your control but can still make heart diseases and strokes more likely. Even though you can’t change them, you should still be aware and control what you can.

The most common uncontrollable risk factors are:

Age – strokes become more likely with age.

Sex – Women are slightly protected against strokes before menopause but then their risk increases afterwards.

Genetic – Rare forms of inherited high cholesterol, blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm or clotting disorders can increase the risk of strokes.

Family history – If your father or brother suffered heart disease or a stroke before the age of 55, or your mother or sister before 65 years, then you could also be at increased risk of heart diseases or strokes.

Poverty - Poverty can increase stress, anxiety and depression. Healthy lifestyle choices could also not be affordable or available, and good medical treatment could be inaccessible. Therefore, poverty is an important risk factor for heart disease and strokes.

Controllable risk factors

Controllable risk factors as factors that increase your risk of stroke that you have the power to change! Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented by healthy living and medical treatment. Even small improvements in each of these can make a difference.

Blood pressure

Cholesterol

Diabetes

Alcohol use

Body weight

Physical activity

Nutrition

Smoking

Stress

Pollution