Skip secondary menu

Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms

Brain Attack

Risk Factors for a Stroke

Stroke prevention is still the best medicine. The most important treatable conditions linked to stroke are:

  • High blood pressure. Treat it. Eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise to reduce blood pressure. Drugs are also available.
  • Cigarette smoking. Quit. Medical help is available to help quit.
  • Heart disease. Manage it. Your doctor can treat your heart disease and may prescribe medication to help prevent the formation of clots. If you are over 50, NINDS scientists believe you and your doctor should make a decision about aspirin therapy.
  • Diabetes. Control it. Treatment can delay complications that increase the risk of stroke.
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). Seek help. TIAs are small strokes that last only for a few minutes or hours. They should never be ignored and can be treated with drugs or surgery.

Symptoms of a Stroke

If you see or have one or more of these symptoms, don't wait, call 911 right away!

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Treatment can be more effective if given quickly. Every minute counts!

"Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms", NINDS. June 2008.

Back to Stroke Information Page.



Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated December 18, 2009