Non-Modifiable Risk Factors – things we can not change

  • Age – stroke affects all ages. Typically the older you are the greater your risk is of having a stroke
  • Gender – Men are at higher risk for stroke when compared to women, however more women die of stroke
  • Family History – The risk of stroke is greater in people whose have a close relative who has had a stroke
  • Race – African American have a higher risk of death and disability from having a stroke than any other race
  • Prior history of stroke – someone who has had a prior stroke is a higher risk of having another stroke

Modifiable Risk Factors – things we can change

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) – Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure (normal blood pressure is less than or equal to 120/80). Blood pressure is the force of blood flow against the artery walls.

If elevated blood pressure is a problem for you there are key things you can do to help ensure control of your blood pressure

  • Monitor blood pressure with a home monitor which can be purchase at a local drug store
  • Record blood pressures on a piece of paper or in a notebook
  • Bring your notebook to the doctor at the time of your scheduled appointment
  • Take all blood pressure medication as directed
  • If you have any questions about your medication, contact your doctor’s office or pharmacy for assistance
  • Diet should be low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol

Recommendations to help prevent high blood pressure

Elevated Blood Sugar (Diabetes) – If elevated blood sugar level (normal is between 60 – 110) is a problem for you, there are key things you can do to help ensure control of your blood sugar:

    • Check with your doctor for a normal blood sugar range for you
    • Check your blood sugar with a blood glucose monitor as directed by your doctor and record on a piece of paper or notebook
    • Bring your notebook to your doctor at the time of your scheduled appointment
    • Take blood sugar pills (oral anti-hyperglycemics) or insulin injections as directed by your doctor
    • Follow an American Dietetic Association (ADA) diet

High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia, Dyslipidemia, Cholesterolemia) – If elevated cholesterol is a problem for you there are key things you can do to help ensure control of your cholesterol:

      • Take your cholesterol medication (anti-lipid agent) as directed by your doctor
      • Know your cholesterol and your target value
      • Have your cholesterol (lipid panel) blood work checked as directed by your doctor
      • Follow a low fat/low cholesterol diet

Normal values for cholesterol:

      • Total Cholesterol – less than 200
      • Triglycerides – less than 150
      • HDL – greater than 40 (the higher the better)
      • LDL – less than 100

Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) is a cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) that involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. These chambers beat irregularly and faster than normal. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia. If left untreated, long term the condition can lead to blood clots that are distributed throughout the body.

If Atrial Fibrillation is a problem for you, there are key things you can do to help ensure proper management of Atrial Fibrillation:

      • Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor
      • Report any abnormal bleeding or excessive bruising
      • Have your blood work drawn as determined by your doctor

Smoking Cessation

      • If you are a smoker, you should quit. Talk to your doctor about a prescriptive anti-smoking aid if this is appropriate for you
      • If you do not smoke, it is in the best interest of your health to not start smoking and to encourage family members to stop smoking
      • Attend a smoking cessation group or class

Obesity / Weight Reduction / Exercise:

    • If you are overweight or have been told you are overweight, incorporate exercise into your life at least 3 times per week
    • If ordered by a physician, start outpatient rehabilitation and, as appropriate, increase your exercise routine
    • If you are not part of a rehabilitation plan and are able, participate in an exercise regime at least 3 times weekly
    • Diet should be low fat, low cholesterol with portion control at each meal
    • If you eat snacks, stop, unless you have a medical condition which requires a snack