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Understanding the Risk Factors for Stroke

Last updated 4 years ago

Stoke is the third leading cause of death in the United States today, responsible for over 160,000 deaths each year. During a stroke, the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, causing the tissues to die. Immediate treatment for a stroke is needed to restore proper blood flow and minimize damage to the brain. Understanding the risk factors for stroke can help you take steps to manage your health to prevent this serious medical condition.


Age can have a significant impact on your risk of stroke. Although a stroke can happen at any age, 75% of all strokes occur in people who are aged 65 or older. Studies indicate that your risk for having a stroke doubles for each decade of life after the age of 55.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a common type of heart arrhythmia that causes the heart to beat irregularly for short periods of time. This condition affects up to 2.7 million Americans, many of whom may not know they have an irregular heartbeat. While atrial fibrillation may not cause any symptoms at all, it can increase your risk of having a stroke by up to five times. Up to 15% of all strokes are believed to be due to untreated atrial fibrillation.

High Blood Pressure

Untreated high blood pressure or hypertension is another significant risk factor for stroke. Like atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure may cause no symptoms at all. Over time, the increased pressure of blood in your veins and arteries can weaken the blood vessels. This can raise the risk of blood clots or burst vessels, which lead directly to stroke. Chronic high blood pressure is one of the main causes if hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts.

Are you concerned about your risk for stroke, heart disease, or other health concerns? Call the Consult-A-Nurse hotline at St. Petersburg General Hospital today at (888) 741-5122 for the answers to your healthcare questions or a physician referral. You’ll find more information about our hospital and your health on our blog.


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