Stroke Training and Awareness Resources (STARs)

Risk factors for stroke

A risk factor increases the likelihood of someone having a stroke. Some of these risk factors are modifiable, i.e. you can do something about them to lower the risk, e.g. smoking and high cholesterol, whilst others are not, e.g. age and sex.

The following are risk factors for stroke –

  • Smokers are at twice the risk of having a stroke compared with non-smokers.
  • Having diabetes doubles the risk of stroke.
  • Stroke is more common in individuals over the age of 55.
  • Vigorous exercise is not a risk factor for stroke.
  • Having high blood pressure is the major risk factor for stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA).
  • A diet high in salt and fatty foods is linked to high blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke.
  • Existing blood vessel disease, angina, heart attack or a previous TIA and atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heart beat) increase the risk of stroke.

Page last reviewed: 10 Jan 2020