Some risk factors for a brain attack can be controlled
Strokes can strike anyone, but certain risk factors increase your chances. Here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself:
Keep an eye on your blood pressure. The No. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. Reducing your blood pressure by 12 to 13 points can decrease the risk for a stroke by up to 37 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is key for us; 1 in 3 black folks in this country have high blood pressure.
Take care of your heart. Heart disease is the second-most important risk factor for stroke, and the major cause of death among survivors of stroke.
Exercise and watch your weight. A sedentary lifestyle, coupled with obesity, increases the risk for stroke.
Watch your alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol use—more than 2 drinks per day—raises blood pressure, and binge drinking can lead to stroke.
Stop smoking. Lighting up almost doubles the risk for ischemic stroke, a blockage of a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.
Some stroke risk factors may be outside your control, but you should know what they are:
Where you live. Strokes are more common among people living in the southeastern United States. Experts believe this may be due to regional differences in diet, lifestyle, race and cigarette smoking.
Weather. Stroke deaths occur more often during periods of extreme temperatures.
Socioeconomic status. Some evidence suggests strokes are more common among low-income people.
Age. For each decade you live after age 55, your chance of having a stroke more than doubles.
Gender. More men have strokes, but more women die from them.
Genetics. If there’s a family history of stroke, your chance of stroke is greater.