Risk factors you cannot control:


People over the age of 65 are at higher risk, although approximately a quarter of strokes happen in younger people.

Family history

If a close member of your family (parent, grandparent brother or sister) has had a stroke, your risk may be higher.


If you are South Asian, African or Caribbean – your risk may be higher, partly because you are more likely to have high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes .

Controllable Risk Factors

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) A major risk factor. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your ateries. High blood pressure causes the heart to pump harder to move blood through the body. This can weaken blood vessels and damge major organs such as the brain. In most people, high blood pressure can be controlled through diet, exercise and medication, or a combination of all three.

Atrial fibrillation (AF)

AF is caused when the two chambers of the heart (atria) beat rapidly and unpredictably, producing an irregular heart beat. AF raises stroke risk because it allows blood to pool (collect) in the heart which can then lead to clots forming. These may break off and travel to the brain causing a stroke. Long term untreated AF can also weaken the heart, leading to heart failure.

HIgh cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood that the human body makes on its own but it also comes from certain fats in foods. High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream can clog arteries and cause a stroke or heart attack


In people with Diabetes, the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin, and without insulin the body is unable to process sugar which is the basic fuel for the cells of the body. Diabetics are up to 4 times more likely to have a stroke mainly because many diabetics have additional health problems that are also stroke risk factors


Atherosclerosis is the progressive build up of plaque - fatty deposits and other cells in the artery walls. It can clog arteries and block the flow of the blood to the brain or other parts of the body, making a person more at risk of a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) known as a mini stroke or other heart disease.