What are the risk factors for stroke?
Overall, the most common risk factors for stroke are:
- high blood pressure,
- high cholesterol,
- diabetes, and
- increasing age.
Heart conditions like atrial fibrillation, patent foramen ovale, and heart valve disease can also be the potential cause of stroke.
When stroke occurs in younger individuals (less than 50 years old), less common risk factors to be considered include illicit drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, ruptured aneurysms, and inherited (genetic) predispositions to abnormal blood clotting.
An example of a genetic predisposition to stroke occurs in a rare condition called homocystinuria, in which there are excessive levels of the chemical homocystine in the body. Scientists are trying to determine whether the non-hereditary occurrence of high levels of homocystine at any age can predispose to stroke.