A stroke can happen to anyone, but risk of stroke increases with age. After the age of 55, stroke risk doubles for every decade a person is alive.
Women suffer more strokes each year than men, mainly because women live longer than men and stroke occurs more often at older ages. Annually, about 55,000 more women than men have strokes, but stroke incidence is higher in men than women at younger ages. Additionally, women are two times more likely to die of a stroke than breast cancer annually.
A 2006 study of women ages 45 and older showed significantly reduced risk for ischemic stroke (stroke caused by a clot) when women maintained a healthy lifestyle that includes no smoking, moderate alcohol use, average weight for their height, regular exercise and a healthy diet. Read more about women's stroke risk by clicking here.
African Americans have twice the risk of stroke when compared to Caucasians. Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islanders also have higher risk than Caucasians. Read more about risk factors for the African American population by clicking here.
If a family member has had a stroke, everyone in the family has a higher risk of stroke.
Previous stroke or TIA
After experiencing a stroke, survivors and their families usually concentrate their efforts on rehabilitation and recovery. However, preventing a "recurrent" stroke from happening is also a critical consideration. About 5 to 14 percent of the people who have a stroke this year will have a second one. Within the next 5 years, stroke will recur in 24 percent of women and 42 percent of men. Read more about recurrent stroke by clicking here.
Stroke prevention is also important to those who have experienced transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). TIAs are brief episodes of stroke-like symptoms that can last from a few minutes to 24 hours, but usually cause no permanent damage or disability. TIAs are serious warning signs of an impending stroke. Up to 40 percent of people who experience a TIA are expected to have a stroke. However, many recurrent strokes and TIAs can be prevented through lifestyle changes, surgery, medication or a combination of all three methods. Read more about TIA by clicking here.
Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD)
FMD is a medical disorder where some of the arteries that carry blood throughout the body do not develop as they should. Fibrous tissue grows in the wall of the arteries, causing them to narrow. As a result, blood flow through the arteries decreases. Read more about FMD by clicking here.
Hole in the heart: patent foramen ovale (PFO)
Strokes and TIAs can occur without any obvious risk factors because they are caused by a "hole" in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). About 1 in 5 Americans has a PFO. Many don't know it until a medical condition like a stroke or TIA occurs. PFOs often have no symptoms but they may increase your risk for stroke and TIA. Many PFO-related strokes are called cryptogenic, meaning they have no apparent cause. Read more about PFO by clicking here.