Who Is At Risk for Stroke?
While stroke can happen in anyone at any age, certain risk factors increase a chance of having a stroke. Some of these factors cannot be controlled, such as age and menopausal status, family history, and race or ethnicity. Others factors are related to an unhealthy lifestyle and can be modified to reduce a risk of stroke, including:
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
- Being overweight
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
The stroke risk is also affected by other medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, blood clotting problems, atrial fibrillation, or other heart and vascular diseases. In addition, there are stroke risk factors that affect women in particular: for example, women taking birth control pills or menopausal hormone therapy are, to varying degrees, at increased stroke risk. There are also stroke concerns related to pregnancy.
Recently, it has been reported that metabolic syndrome (a collection of risk factors for both heart disease and stroke including a large waistline, higher than normal blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides) is related to a high risk of stroke, in particularly in women. In addition, the risk of developing metabolic syndrome is higher in postmenopausal than premenopausal women. More than 47 million individuals in the United States have the metabolic syndrome. In a study from the Northern Manhattan community, among 3,298 stroke-free residents, 48% of women and 38% of men had the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome considerably increases the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, especially among women. In the same study, it was estimated that elimination of the metabolic syndrome would result in a 19% reduction in overall stroke, and a 30% reduction of stroke in women.