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Stroke Risk Factors You Cannot Change

While there are many stroke risk factors that you can change, there are some that you cannot. It's important to be aware of both to determine your overall risk. You cannot change your age or family history, for example, but you can still reduce your overall risk by managing the factors you can change. Talk to your doctor about how to best manage your overall risk.


The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the elderly, a lot of people under 65 also have strokes.

Family History and Race

Your stroke risk is greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. African-Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do. This is partly because African-Americans have higher risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.


Stroke is more common in men than women in most age groups. However, more than half of total stroke deaths occur in women. At all ages, more women than men die of stroke. Use of birth control pills and pregnancy pose special stroke risks for women.

Prior Stroke, TIA or Heart Attack

The stroke risk for someone who has already had one is many times greater than that of a person who has not. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are "warning strokes" that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. TIAs are strong predictors of stroke.

A person who has suffered one or more TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who has not. Recognizing and treating a TIA can reduce your risk for a major stroke. If you have suffered a heart attack, you are at higher risk for having a stroke, too.

More information about stroke risk factors you cannot change.