There are many ways that stroke risk can be assessed. Research has looked at risk by gender, race, and family history, location, certain types of diseases, and by behavior. One study in 2009 even found that stroke risk was higher if people lived in close proximity to many fast food restaurants. Other studies concentrate on risk of mortality from strokes and in what populations mortality is most to occur.
In regard to gender, men are more likely to have strokes, but women are more likely to die from them. Women can be at particular risk if they use hormonal birth control, especially if they smoke and are over the age of 35. Pregnancy alone is a risk factor for stroke.
In the US, certain populations bear higher stroke risk. African Americans and Latino Americans are more likely to have a stroke, while Asian and Caucasian populations have less chance of this. This does not mean that Asians are less likely by race to avoid strokes. In many Asian countries risk of stroke is much higher when compared to Asians living in America, and risk of mortality in numerous Asian countries greatly outpaces risk of mortality for Asian Americans and Caucasians.
Certain diseases also greatly increase stroke risk. Diabetes, sickle cell anemia, high blood pressure and any form of heart disease make people much more likely to suffer strokes. Anyone who has already had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is at greater peril too. People with a family history of these conditions or of stroke can be considered in a higher risk group. Additionally, obesity, which may or may not be considered a behavioral factor, more endangers people. Age is also a simple risk factor, and the elderly are more likely to have strokes than are younger people.
There are identifiable behavioral factors associated with a higher stroke risk. The two most common of these are smoking and drinking to excess. While drinking small amounts of alcohol may be heart healthy, having three or more alcoholic drinks per day is not advised. Smoking is never healthy since it can lead to so many different forms of heart and lung disease.
Other behaviors that increase stroke risk include living a sedentary life. Those who exercise regularly tend to have lower incidence of stroke. Consuming a diet high in saturated fats and trans fat also endangers health.
Studies on populations most at risk for death from stroke are very interesting. It appears that people who live in poorer or middle-income nations are at greatest risk for stroke mortality. Countries or geographic acres that have the highest stroke mortality rates include Russia, most of Eastern Europe, most parts of Asia, Central Africa and the South Pacific. This doesn’t seem to be particularly tied to racial makeup. When people from these countries immigrate to wealthier places in the world, mortality rates often decrease.
One last group that bears mention is those of lower socioeconomic status. There is increasing evidence that these folks may have more strokes. Some doctors and medical researchers believe this is due to lack of adequate preventative care.