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5 Diseases That Increase Your Risk of Stroke

While stroke can happen to anyone at any time, certain diseases can increase your risk. Here’s how high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sickle cell, and high cholesterol can put you at a greater risk of stroke. Keep in mind, managing the following diseases is critical to decreasing your risk.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure damages your arteries and vessels, increasing the chance of clogging or bursting. A stroke occurs when a blockage or bleed prevents blood and oxygen flow to your brain.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation is one type of arrhythmia highly associated with stroke. AFib, for short, can present a quivering or irregular heartbeat. This causes blood to pool and clots to pile up inside the heart, and if one of these clots escapes, it could cause a blockage in the brain. In fact, a person with AFib is four to five times more likely to suffer a stroke.


If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin correctly. Glucose can build up along the walls of your blood vessels, increasing blood pressure and decreasing vessel capacity. These two factors increase the chance of stroke.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell is a blood disorder where red blood cells form in an abnormal sickle shape. These cells can get stuck in blood vessels, blocking the flow of oxygen to the brain, which can cause stroke.

High Cholesterol

If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the excess fatty substance can build up in our arteries. This narrowing can lead to higher blood pressure and blockages, increasing the chance of stroke.

While a diagnosis for any of the above diseases can mean an increased risk of stroke, there are proactive things you can do. Managing your risk starts with a healthy lifestyle and keeping your heart healthy.

Before a stroke emergency occurs, make a plan for your family and locate your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency department. If you do suffer a stroke, St. Luke’s Health is equipped to treat even the most complex cases and can provide a seamless transfer to one of our Comprehensive Stroke Centers located at St. Luke's Health–The Woodlands Hospital and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.


American Heart Association | How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Stroke
CDC | Conditions That Increase Risk for Stroke
American Stroke Association | Stroke Risks
CDC | Atrial Fibrillation

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