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Behaviors That Increase Risk for Stroke

A woman holding an apple and a donut, weighing which option is better for her.

Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol have been linked to stroke and related conditions. Make the healthy choice.

Your lifestyle choices can influence your risk for stroke. To reduce your risk, your doctor may recommend changes to your lifestyle.

The good news is that healthy behaviors can lower your risk for stroke.

Unhealthy Diet

Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol have been linked to stroke and related conditions, such as heart disease. Also, too much salt (sodium) in the diet can raise blood pressure levels.

Physical Inactivity

Not getting enough physical activity can increase the chances of having other risk factors for stroke, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular physical activity can lower your risk for stroke.

Obesity

Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower "good" cholesterol levels. In addition to heart disease, obesity can also lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.

Too Much Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and the risk for stroke. It also increases levels of triglycerides, a form of fat in your blood, which can harden your arteries.

  • Women should have no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use increases the risk for stroke. Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk for stroke. Also, nicotine raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. Exposure to other people’s secondhand smoke can increase the risk for stroke even for nonsmokers.


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