Stroke Risk Factors

Women and Stroke Risk Factors

Stroke Risk Factors

Most strokes are preventable and their adverse impact can be minimized by prompt attention and proper treatment. Knowing the risk factors for stroke can help with prevention.

Risk factors that cannot be controlled

  • Increasing age: As women age, the risk of stroke rises and keeps rising with age.
  • Gender: More women die of stroke than men—60 percent of total stroke deaths occur in women.
  • Family history: Women (and men) are more likely to have a stroke if their close blood relatives have had a stroke.
  • Race: African-American women have a greater incidence of stroke and are more likely to die of a stroke than Caucasian women.
  • Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke): A previous stroke or TIA is a predictor of future stroke. 

Risk factors that can be controlled 

The following risk factors can be treated or modified by lifestyle changes or medicine. 

Risk factors unique to women

  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): HRT is a combined hormone therapy of progestin and estrogen, to relieve menopausal symptoms.
  • Pregnancy: Stroke risk increases during a normal pregnancy due to natural changes in the body such as increased blood pressure and stress on the heart.
  • Waist size and high triglyceride (blood fat) level: Post-menopausal women with a waist size larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride level higher than 128 milligrams per liter may have a five-fold increased risk for stroke.
  • Migraine headaches: Migraine headaches with aura (visual disturbances such as flashing dots or blind spots) can increase a woman's stroke risk 3 to 6 times, and most Americans who suffer from migraines are women.

Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:

Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials: