Strokes can happen to anyone. But there are certain risk factors you can control that will go a long way toward preventing a stroke. Recent studies show that up to 80% of all strokes can be prevented by reducing various personal risks.

Blood pressure/Hypertension

High blood pressure plays a major role in stroke risk if left unchecked. You should have your blood pressure checked annually by your doctor, at health fairs or your local pharmacy. Keep track of your numbers and see your physician when you notice a significant change.

Identify atrial fibrillation (afib)

Afib is an abnormal heartbeat that can greatly increase stroke risk. This disorder can cause blood to pool in the heart and form a clot. People diagnosed with afib are 5x more likely to suffer a stroke.

Stop smoking

Smoking damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes your heart work harder – doubling your risk of stroke.

Control alcohol use

Combined with other risk factors, excessive alcohol consumption can increase stroke risk

Manage cholesterol

High cholesterol levels can clog arteries causing a stroke. Checking these levels should be part of your annual health exam.

Diabetes

Many of the risk factors associated with diabetes can also lead to stroke.

Diet and exercise

No great secret here. A low salt, low trans and saturated fat diet combined with regular exercise goes a long way toward preventing strokes and many other health issues. Visit the National Stroke Association® at stroke.org for more information.