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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Lifestyle Changes & Stroke Prevention

There are two types of stroke risk factors: uncontrollable, and controllable:

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

These are risk factors that you cannot change:

Age over 55 years Being male
Being African-American Family history of stroke
Having diabetes  


Having one or several of these risk factors does not mean you will have a stroke; only that you are likelier to.

But it also makes lifestyle changes all the more important, as these controllable risk factors can be changed to help reduce your risk of stroke.

Controllable Risk Factors

Controllable risk factors are lifestyle-oriented changes you can make that can reduce your risk of stroke:

  • High blood pressure: one of the most easily controlled of risk factors, you should check it yearly. It can be controlled through diet and exercise
  • Smoking: smoking cessation is one of the best ways of controlling risk for stroke and heart disease
  • Alcohol use: reducing alcohol consumption can help reduce risk of stroke
  • Cholesterol level: reducing “bad” cholesterol levels will help reduce risk of stroke by keeping arterial plaques from breaking off and causing a blood clot to form
  • Exercise: regular, moderate exercise (at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) can help improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce risk of stroke
  • Low fat and low-sodium diet: avoiding fatty and salty foods helps keep cholesterol levels lower and reduces your weight, reducing risk of stroke 

Contact Us

You can contact the Northwestern Stroke Center at 312-926-5188 or by the external transfer line at 312-926-3321.

Last UpdateJanuary 31, 2013