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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Women and Stroke Risk Reduction

The good news is that 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Talk to your doctor about your particular stroke risk. Observe the National Stroke Association guidelines below to reduce your risk of stroke:

  • Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Have your blood pressure checked at least once each year; check it more frequently if you have a history of high blood pressure.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to collect in the chambers of your heart. This blood can form clots and cause a stroke. If you have AF, work with your doctor to manage it. Your doctor can detect atrial fibrillation by carefully checking your pulse.
  • If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk of stroke will decrease.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • Find out if you have high cholesterol. If your cholesterol is high, work with your doctor to control it. High cholesterol can be controlled with diet and exercise; some individuals may require medication.
  • Control your diabetes carefully. Follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully. Your doctor can prescribe a nutrition program, lifestyle changes and medicine that can help control your diabetes.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine. A brisk walk, swim or other exercise activity for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways and may reduce your risk for stroke.
  • Enjoy a lower-sodium (salt), lower-fat diet. By reducing sodium and fat in your diet, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and, most importantly, lower your risk for stroke.
  • Ask your doctor if you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Women with PAD, blockages in the arteries to your legs, have an increased risk of death and disability from heart attack and stroke. Have your doctor check the blood flow to your legs.
  • If you experience or witness in another person any symptoms of stroke, seek medical attention immediately by calling 911, even if the symptoms only last a few minutes. Make sure you, your family members and caregivers know the signs of stroke and understand that a stroke is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY!


Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health
1-866 662-8467 (toll free)

Information line
312-MYHEART (694-3278)

Last UpdateNovember 23, 2012

Referrals &

To obtain a referral or schedule
an appointment:

Northwestern Memorial:

Northwestern Lake Forest:
847-LF-HEART (534-3278)

Northwestern Grayslake:
847-LF-HEART (534-3278)

Glenview Outpatient Center:

847-724-GLEN (4536)