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Who is at risk of stroke?

  • What is a stroke?

    A stroke is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. Without blood the brain cells can be damaged or die.

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  • Who is at risk of stroke?

    A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, even children, but there are some things, like your ethnicity, lifestyle and other health conditions, that make you more at risk than others.

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  • Signs and symptoms

    If you, or someone else, show any signs of having a stroke you need to seek immediate medical attention. The FAST test can help you spot the signs of stroke.

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  • Treatment of stroke

    A stroke is a medical emergency and if you have one you need to call 999 immediately. The quicker your stroke is diagnosed and treated, the better your recovery will be.

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  • Rehabilitation and recovery

    Rehabilitation is about overcoming and adapting to the effects of your stroke, so that you can become as independent as possible. Aids and equipment can help you do this.

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  • Stroke Resources

    This page shows various links to useful stroke related information, plus our collection of real-life 'stroke stories'. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to contribute.

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Anyone can have a stroke, although there are some things that make you more at risk than others. It’s important to know what the risk factors are and do what you can to reduce your risk. Some of the main risk factors for stroke are:


The largest number of people who have strokes are aged over 55, and the risk increases as you get older.

This is because our arteries naturally become narrower and harder as we get older, making them more likely to become blocked.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of stroke. These include:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • atrial fibrillation
  • high cholesterol

An important way to reduce your risk of stroke is to find out if you have any of these conditions and work with your doctor to manage them.


If you are South Asian, black African or black Caribbean you are at a higher risk of stroke than other people in the UK.

It isn’t completely understood why this is, but it’s probably connected to the fact that you are more likely to have conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Genetic conditions such as sickle cell disease or having a family history of stroke also increase your chances of having a stroke.


The way we live has a big impact on our risk of stroke.

Things like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and eating unhealthy foods can damage your blood vessels, increase your blood pressure and make your blood more likely to clot.

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