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Fit And Well Idaho: Stroke Risk Factors

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By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month.

What are the risk factors for a stroke?

First, we'll start with the non-modifiable risk factors, or ones you can't control.

"They're your genetics, your age, your race, your gender; the modifiable risk factors are the ones we focus on. They're the things you can actually change to help decrease your risk of a stroke," explains Dr. Cheri Wiggins.

High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for a stroke. That's because it's the leading cause of a stroke.

High blood pressure or hypertension is a modifiable risk factor.

"There's kind of a way to look at those in two groups. One is medical issues such as hypertension, diabetes, elevated lipids and making sure those are treated appropriately...The other one is lifestyle factors such as obesity, making sure you're at a healthy weight, physical activity, making sure you get exercise on a regular basis, not smoking, which is really important. If you do smoke, stopping smoking is one of the best ways to get your risk factors down quickly," Wiggins says.

This stroke risk scorecard is a visual guide of measuring your overall health to being at risk of a stroke.