What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of the normal blood flow to the brain, due to a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel. Without the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood, brain cells start to die. Stroke can cause disability and death.

Risk Factors for Stroke

There are certain behaviors and characteristics that increase your chance of having a stroke. We call these risk factors. There are some risk factors cannot be controlled such as having a family history of stroke, being a certain ethnicity (African Americans have a higher risk of stroke), being female (women have more strokes then men), being age 55 or older, and having had a stroke or heart attack in the past. However, there are also many risk factors that you can control. Here’s how you can reduce your risk of stroke:

  • High Blood Pressure/Hypertension – High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. If you have high blood pressure, speak to your health care provider to learn how to lower it.
  • Sodium – In many people sodium increases blood pressure. You can lower your blood pressure and your risk for stroke by reducing the amount of sodium you eat.
  • Smoking – Cigarette smoke can be an important risk factor for stroke. If you smoke, quit to reduce your risk for stroke.
  • Physical Activity & Nutrition – Moving more and eating a balanced diet can help you lower your risk for stroke.
  • And More – to learn more about risk factors for stroke visit the American Stroke Association.

Stroke Statistics

This information is provided by the Division of Prevention and Wellness within the Department of Public Health.