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Lifestyle risk factors


Small, healthy changes in your daily routine can decrease your risk for another stroke. Making changes is always challenging. Your healthcare team can help you figure out what risk factors you should focus on first and set goals that you can reach.

Don’t try to change yourself overnight. Start with something that is relatively easy and build on your successes.

Unhealthy weight

Increased weight can lead to high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes, all of which are risk factors for stroke. By achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and waist, you can significantly reduce your risk.

Learn how to assess your weight and reach a healthy weight.

Unhealthy diet

The foods you eat affect your health. Small healthy changes in your daily routine can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Learn more about how to eat healthy. 

Not enough exercise

People who are NOT active have double the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as increased risk of diabetes, cancer and dementia. Being active helps your heart, brain, muscles, bones and mood.

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. No matter what your state of health, there is something you can do to stay active. Learn more about getting active.

Smoking (tobacco misuse)

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke increase the risk of stroke.

Quitting is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of another stroke. You might be afraid that quitting will be too hard, but there is lots of help available to you when you are ready.  

Too much alcohol

Heavy drinking and binge drinking are risk factors for high blood pressure & stroke. Alcohol may also cause problems by interacting with your medications. Learn more about your risk and the guidelines for moderate drinking.

Recreational drug use

Recreational drug use increases your risk of stroke. Learn more.

Birth control and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Medications that contain estrogen – the female hormone – increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and mini-stroke (TIA). Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (usually prescribed for the symptoms of menopause) and many birth control pills contain estrogen.  If you take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, discuss the benefits and risk with your healthcare professional.

Learn more about women’s unique risk factors.

Stress

We know that some people who have high levels of stress or prolonged stress have higher cholesterol or blood pressure. They may be more prone to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), a stroke risk factor.  Find more information on managing stress.