Barnes-Jewish & Washington University
Stroke Center

Avoid Stroke: Reduce Stroke Risk Factors

Some Medical Conditions Increase the Risk of Stroke

Anyone can have a stroke, although certain stroke risk factors increase the chance.

  • High blood pressure (greater than 140/90 for people without diabetes or greater than 130/80 for people with diabetes)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Heart disease and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Sickle cell disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity

Some stroke risk factors cannot be changed.

  • Age – stroke risk doubles for every decade after age 55
  • Family history of stroke in a parent, grandparent, sister or brother
  • Previous stroke or TIA
  • Sex – men have a higher risk at younger ages, while women have a higher risk over age 85
  • Race/ethnicity – African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke than other races

Know Your Risk of Stroke

To understand your personal risk for a stroke, visit the National Stroke Association’s Stroke Risk Scorecard. Any elevated risks for stroke should be discussed with your doctor.

Stroke Prevention: Reduce Stroke Risk

According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. To prevent stroke, start by getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Additionally, it is important to stay on top of your stroke risk factors and manage them with your physician.

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Report any episodes of missed or irregular heartbeats
  • Find out if you have high cholesterol
  • Treat circulation problems such as blocked arteries, sickle cell disease and severe anemia

If you suspect stroke, call 9-1-1 to activate rapid response services and transport to a Stroke Network hospital.

To find out more about the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Stroke Center, call .

tPA and Stroke

For patients suffering an onset of stroke, a drug called tPA can be the difference between paralysis and a life changing recovery. Find out more in this Barnes-Jewish Health Connection podcast with Dr. Jin-Moo Lee from the Barnes-Jewish and Washington University Stroke Center.


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