Reduce Your Stroke Risk With Exercise: Address Controllable Risk Factors

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Known as the 'stroke belt' more people in the southeastern United States are more likely to have a stroke. Image by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Known as the ‘stroke belt’ more people in the southeastern United States are more likely to have a stroke. Image by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Risk Factors for Stroke

There are some risk factors that cannot be changed, and some that can be changed, according to the American Heart Association. The risk factors that cannot be changed include:

  • Age; the chance of having a stroke nearly doubles for each decade after the age of 55
  • Hereditary; if you have a grandparent, mother, father, brother, or sister that has had a stroke, then you are at risk of having one as well.
  • Race; African-Americans have a greater chance of having a stroke, mainly due to the fact that they also are more likely to have high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes (which are also risk factors)
  • Gender; more men have strokes than women; however, more women die of strokes than men.
  • Prior stroke, TIA, or heart attack puts you at greater risk for having another stroke. A person who has had one or more TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a major stroke.

Risk factors that can be controlled to some degree include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cigarette smoking, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, poor diet, and lack of exercise. There have also been some less well known risk factors such as physical location: if you live in the southeast you are more likely to have a stroke. Also, alcohol and drug abuse has been found to increase your risk of stroke.

Reduce Your Stroke Risk

There are many people, such as country singer Randy Travis, who are having strokes and having to go through rehabilitation to recover from their stroke, so go talk to your doctor about reducing your risk of having a stroke. Remember, there are some risk factors, like not exercising, that you can change to reduce your risk.

Resources:

Michelle N. McDonnell, Ph.D. et al. Physical Activity Frequency and Risk of Incident Stroke in a National U.S. Study of Blacks and Whites. (2013). Stroke. Accessed July 19, 2013.

American Heart Association. Understanding Stroke Risk. Reviewed October 23, 2012. Accessed July 19, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke Facts. Updated March 20, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.

National Institutes of Health. NIH-funded study suggests that moving more may lower stroke risk. July 18, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.

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