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A Comprehensive Guide to Stroke Risk Factors

A Comprehensive Guide to Stroke Risk Factors

A Stroke is a medical emergency that interrupts blood flow to a part of the brain and requires immediate treatment. Given that strokes tend to be lifestyle-related, everyone potentially has the power to reduce or even eliminate their chance of having one.

This blog explores the various risk factors associated with stroke, from lifestyle choices to underlying medical conditions. 

Understanding Stroke

Also called a cerebrovascular accident, a Stroke is a type of brain damage caused by an interruption in its blood flow. It occurs when the blood supply to a part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing the brain tissues from getting oxygen and nutrients. When this happens, the brain cells begin to die. There are two main types of stroke — ischemic, caused by a blood clot in an artery supplying blood to the brain, and hemorrhagic, caused by a rupture in an artery in the brain.

Click here to understand post-stroke complications.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Broadly categorized into two main types – modifiable risk factors and non-modifiable risk factors – risk factors for stroke are varied. Understanding them can enable individuals to take proactive steps to reduce their risk of experiencing a stroke.

Modifiable Risk Factors for Stroke

Addressing Lifestyle Choices

High blood pressure (hypertension)

This is perhaps the biggest cause of Strokes in patients. Hypertension leads to the blood exerting abnormal levels of pressure on the blood vessel walls, which could weaken them over time and increase the risk of a cerebral hemorrhage. It could also thicken the artery walls and eventually cause a blockage, leading to an Ischemic Stroke.


This is an inflammatory condition that leads to hardening of the artery walls. Affected arteries become stiff and accumulate deposits of cholesterol-laden plaque, which can lead to the formation of blood clots. The clots can then block the artery or flow downstream and block a smaller vessel, either of which can trigger a stroke.


Smoking can significantly increase your risk of having a stroke as it thickens the blood and increases the likelihood of clot formation. Chemicals like nicotine and carbon monoxide that are present in cigarette smoke can also constrict the artery walls, making it harder for blood to flow through them.

Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can cause health problems if its levels in the body become too high. High blood cholesterol leads to the formation of atheroma, a substance that sticks to artery walls and narrows them.

Alcohol consumption

People who drink heavily (three or more standard-sized drinks per day) are up to three times more likely to suffer a Hemorrhagic Stroke, regardless of age.


An unhealthy diet that is high in fatty and processed foods can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels and thus, increase the risk of a stroke. Excess body fat from consuming an unhealthy diet could also lead to diabetes or heart disease, both major risk factors for a stroke.

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors for Stroke

Genetic and Medical Factors


The risk of stroke increases with age, with the majority of strokes occurring in individuals over the age of 65. Having said that, strokes can occur at any age, including in children and young adults.


Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. The risk for women may increase after menopause.

Family history

Individuals with a family history of stroke or certain genetic conditions may be at higher risk themselves.

Race and ethnicity

Research suggests that certain racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans, have a higher risk of stroke than Caucasians.


A person who has diabetes is twice as likely to suffer a stroke as a healthy individual of the same age and gender. The high blood sugar levels that occur as a result of diabetes lead to a narrowing of the arteries, which increases the risk of clots forming.

Atrial fibrillation

This is a condition that produces an irregular heartbeat owing to inefficient pumping by the atria (the chambers of the heart). This causes blood to stagnate and clot in the atria, following which parts of the clots may break off and block an artery, leading to a stroke.

Carotid artery stenosis

This is a condition that hardens the arteries in the neck. It is a major risk factor for stroke, as the arteries in the neck are responsible for blood flow to the brain. Often, patients are not even aware that they have this condition until they have a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or ‘mini Stroke’. A TIA is a strong indicator that a full-blown stroke is imminent and requires immediate medical attention.

History of stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Individuals who have had a previous stroke or TIA are at increased risk of having another stroke.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Stroke

A patient who has suffered a stroke requires immediate medical attention followed by a course of treatment at the best rehabilitation center in Bangalore.

At Plexus, we provide customisable Stroke Rehabilitation that includes a combination of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Therapy. 

In addition, certain lifestyle changes can reduce the patient’s risk of a stroke.

  • Eat a low-fat, low-sodium diet that incorporates plenty of fiber
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking. To help with this, you may need to opt for counseling or ask your physician for strategies
  • Eliminate alcohol, or at least reduce your intake
  • Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly so that you know your numbers are within the safe range

Please note, the above steps can help control the modifiable risk factors for stroke.

To know more about Plexus’ Stroke Rehabilitation programs, reach out to us today.

WhatsApp +91 89048 42087

Call +91 78159 64668 (Hyderabad) | +91 82299 99888 (Bangalore)


What are the 5 warning signs of a stroke?

The five warning signs of a stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

What are the 4 types of strokes?

The four types of stroke are:

  • Ischemic Stroke
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
  • Cryptogenic Stroke

What are the 5 leading causes of a stroke?

The 5 leading causes of stroke are:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity and physical inactivity

How to avoid stroke?

Here are our 5 recommended lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of stroke:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat well balanced meals that  are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage underlying medical conditions that may be risk factors of stroke, such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol
  • Quit smoking, and limit alcohol consumption

What is the best treatment for stroke?

At Plexus, we offer a combination of stem cell therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to support a stroke patient’s recovery and help them get on the road to a happy and healed life.

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