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Strokes Center

Stroke Causes and Risk Factors

While strokes affect both men and women in the United States, African Americans are the most susceptible to strokes across any ethnic/racial and age group in the United States.  Additionally, the chances of having a stroke increase with age.  In fact, almost 75% of all strokes occur from age 65+.  Additional risk factors that may make you more susceptible to having a stroke, include:

  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, a heart defect, heart infection, or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of stroke, heart attack or TIA
  • High blood pressure - a systolic blood pressure of 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher
  • High cholesterol - a total cholesterol level of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 5.2 mmol/L, or higher
  • High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in your blood
  • Obesity - a body mass index of 30 or higher
  • Use of birth control pills or other hormone therapy
  • Previous stroke or TIA (transient ischemic stroke) 

Because the consequences of experiencing a stroke are so severe, and because it's fairly common in the United States, it's a good idea to learn the symptoms of a stroke.  To do just that, read the next section on Symptoms of Stroke for more information.

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