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

You cannot change the following risk factors, but it is important to know about them.

  • Increasing age: As women age, the risk of stroke increases.
  • Gender: More women die of stroke than men. Sixty percent of total stroke deaths occur in women.
  • Family history: Women (and men) are more likely to have a stroke if a close blood relative has had a stroke.
  • Race: The risk of having a stroke varies with race and ethnicity. African-American women have a greater incidence of stroke and are more likely to die of a stroke than non-Hispanic white women or Hispanic people in the United States.
  • 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: Although absolute risks remain low, stroke and heart attack are higher among users of oral contraceptives.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): HRT is a combined hormone therapy of progestin and estrogen, to relieve menopausal symptoms. Taking HRT increases your risk of having a stroke.
  • Pregnancy: Stroke risk increases during a normal pregnancy. This is because of natural changes in the body such as increased blood pressure and stress on the heart.
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