Some medical conditions increase the risk of stroke, but you can manage them with medication, treatment and making healthy choices.

Blood pressure

High blood pressure can weaken your artery walls, increasing your chances of a stroke. Reducing salt in your diet can reduce your blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure at target levels reduces your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Atrial fibrillation (Afib)

This is an irregular heart rhythm. It can cause small clots to form in your heart that can travel to your brain. It increases your risk of ischemic stroke three to five times.


This disease can affect your blood vessels and in turn increase blood pressure. Diabetes also increases the chance of plaque forming in your blood vessels.

Blocked carotid arteries

The large arteries in your neck become narrowed, making it difficult for the blood to flow to your brain.

High cholesterol

This can lead to a buildup of plaque in the artery walls (atherosclerosis). The plaque makes it harder for blood to flow through your body, putting you at increased risk of stroke.

Sleep apnea

When people have interrupted breathing during sleep, it lowers the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. It can also cause high blood pressure.

Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)

Women who have had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke later in life.


Talk to your stroke team if you are thinking about becoming pregnant. And if you are undergoing fertility treatment, tell your fertility specialist if you have had a previous stroke or TIA.

Other medical conditions

Medical conditions such as cancer or heart disease can also increase your risk for stroke.

Related information

Learn about other risk factors for stroke. 

Learn how to live a healthier lifestyle

To find useful services to help you on your stroke journey, see our services and resources listing.