Gates Vascular Institute (GVI)
875 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
- (716) 748-2000
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Stroke Care Center at the Gates Vascular Institute
Risk factors are conditions or habits that make one more prone to develop a disease. There are risk factors which can be controlled (modifiable) and those that cannot be controlled (non-modifiable). It is important for patients to work with their physician to develop a plan to control risk factors and decrease chance of stroke.
Take the Stroke Risk Assessment Quiz
(All risk factor recommendations should be discussed with the patient’s personal physician.)
|Blood Pressure||Greater than 140
"I don't know"
|In the range of
over 80 to 89
|Less than 120
|Cholesterol||Greater than 240
"I don't know"
|In the range of
200 to 239
|Less than 200|
|Smoking||"I still smoke"||"I'm trying to
|I'm a non-smoker"|
|Atrial Fibrillation||"I have an
|"I don't know"||"My heartbeat is
|Body Weight||"I'm overweight"||"I'm slightly
"My weight is
|Exercise||"I'm a couch
|"I have stroke in my family"||"Yes"||"I don't know"||"No"|
How to Determine Stroke Risk?
Each box that applies to the patient equals 1 point. Total the score at the bottom of each column and compare with the stroke risk levels below:
|If your RED score is 3 or more, please ask your doctor about stroke prevention right away.|
|If your YELLOW score is 4 - 6, you're off to a good start. Keep working on it! Talk to your doctor about things you can do to put yourself less at risk.|
|If your GREEN score is 6 - 8, congratulations! You're doing very well at controlling your risk for stroke!|
© 2011 National Stroke Association. Content provided by permission of National Stroke Association. Please visit www.stroke.org for stroke education resources.
Controllable (Modifiable) Risk Factors
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- The leading cause of heart disease and stroke
- If a previous stroke was experienced or the individual has Diabetes Mellitus or kidney disease, the target blood pressure should be under 140/90.
- Damages the small blood vessels anywhere in the body including the brain.
- Good diabetes management may prevent damage to the small blood vessels.
- HbA1c is a blood test that identifies if blood sugar has been in good control over the past three months. The HbA1c should be less than 7 percent.
High cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia)
- Increases risk of heart disease more than stroke. If a stroke has previously been experienced, it is recommended that the “bad” cholesterol or LDL should be less than 70 mg/dl. In general LDL should be less than 100mg/dl.
- Cholesterol levels may be controlled with diet, exercise or medication.
- Tobacco use is a major preventable risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
- Once an individual quits smoking, the risk of stroke almost disappears within five years.
- "Passive Smoking" also may be a risk factor.
- To quit, call 1-866-NY-quits (1-866-697-8487).
Irregular heart beat (Atrial fibrillation)
- Risk of stroke is five times greater compared to someone who does not have atrial fibrillation.
- Medications may be prescribed to thin the blood.
- Other heart conditions such as heart valve disease, congestive heart failure, recent heart attack, or abnormal structures may increase stroke risk.
Excessive alcohol consumption
- Can increase the risk of stroke.
- Alcohol should be limited to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- One drink is equal to 1 oz. of hard liquor, 4 oz. of wine, or one bottle of beer.
Being overweight or physically inactive
- Increases the chance of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, which are risk factors for stroke and heart disease.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low in fat and cholesterol.
- Thirty (30) minutes of even mild exercise each day may reduce stroke risk.
- Medications such as oral contraceptive pills increase the risk of stroke, especially in smokers.
- Illegal IV drugs and cocaine also increase the risk for stroke.
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
- People of all ages, including children, may have strokes.
- Stroke is more common in people ages 55 – 60.
- Stroke is more common in women than in men.
- Women are more likely to have a stroke than a heart attack as their first event.
- The incidence of stroke in women increases after menopause.
- African Americans and Hispanics have a higher risk of death from stroke than Caucasians.
- This may be due to an increased incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
- Stroke risk is greater if family members, especially parents, have had a stroke or heart attack.
Prior Stroke or Heart Attack
- Someone who has had a stroke, even a "mini stroke," is at much higher risk of having a repeat stroke.
- If someone has previously had a heart attack, they are at higher risk of stroke.
Regular medical checkups are important in evaluating risk factors and detecting problems before they become serious.