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    What Puts You at Risk for a Stroke?

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    Medical Conditions You Can Control continued...

    AFib makes you five times more likely to have a stroke, according to the National Stroke Association.

    Coronary artery disease, heart failure, an enlarged heart, and other heart diseases make you more likely to have a stroke.

    Too much cholesterol raises your chances of both heart disease and atherosclerosis. High cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup in arteries, which can block blood flow to the brain.

    People with diabetes face a higher risk of stroke because they often have other health problems as well as stroke risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

    Extra weight, along with the less-active lifestyle that can come with it, raises the chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.


    The blood thinners used to prevent blood clots and lower your risk of stroke can also raise the risk if used incorrectly. Check with your doctor to make sure you need to take the medicine and that you're taking the right dose.

    Hormones in birth control pills and patches and postmenopausal therapy place some women at greater risk for stroke. If you're over 35 or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, or if you smoke, ask your doctor about your risk and your options.

    Unhealthy Lifestyle

    Eating a lot of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and salt makes you more likely to have a stroke and the conditions that put you at risk. Not getting regular exercise will also lead to health problems that can increase the chance of a stroke.

    Other "bad habits" for stroke include:

    • Alcohol
    • Recreational drugs
    • Smoking

    Smoking lowers oxygen levels in your blood, forcing your heart to work harder and making it easier for blood clots to form. Nicotine raises your blood pressure. Cigarette smoke can also damage your arteries and make atherosclerosis worse. According to the National Stroke Association, smokers have twice the risk of stroke as nonsmokers. Even secondhand smoke can have an effect.

    Some research has linked too much alcohol to a higher risk of stroke. It can raise your blood pressure and boost the level of certain fats in your blood, which can harden your arteries. Women should have no more than one drink a day; men, two.

    Illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines, increase your chances, too.

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