More than two dozen factors influence the odds of having a stroke. Some can't be changed, like getting older or having a family history of stroke. But a surprising number of these factors can be controlled, even when an underlying medical condition further ups the risk of stroke, reports the August 2013 Harvard Heart Letter.
"Stroke is potentially one of the most devastating illnesses that we see, and it's especially tragic when simply taking good care of one's blood pressure or some other preventive measure might have averted it," says Dr. Thomas Lee, MD, co-editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter.
There are two basic categories of stroke risk: lifestyle risks and medical risks. Among smokers, that habit is by far the most important lifestyle risk. Nothing will do more to prevent a stroke than quitting. Other lifestyle changes that can help cut stroke risk are:
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