High cholesterol can put you at a higher risk of stroke, but your exact risk depends on your overall health, including any other stroke risk factors you may have:
- Stroke risk factors you can't control
- High cholesterol and other stroke risk factors you can control
If you have high cholesterol, you're already at risk of a stroke. But your risk may be even higher if you have one or more of the following risk factors that can't be controlled:
- age: Strokes can happen at any age but are more common after 65.
- gender: Men have a higher risk of stroke, while women's stroke risk goes up after menopause.
- family history: Your stroke risk is higher if a close family member such as a parent, sibling, or child has had a stroke before age 65.
- ethnic background: Strokes are more common in people of First Nations, African, or South Asian ancestry.
- personal history of a stroke or TIA: People who have already suffered a stroke have a 20% chance of having another stroke in the next 2 years.
Talk to your doctor to find out about your stroke risk and what you can do to reduce it.
To find out your risk of having a stroke in the next 10 years, use the stroke risk assessment calculator.
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for stroke. You may be at an even higher risk if you have any of these other controllable risk factors:
- being overweight (use the body mass index [BMI] calculator to see if you are overweight)
- eating an unhealthy diet (low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated or trans fat)
- not getting enough exercise (this applies only to people whose doctor has given them approval to exercise. For these people, current guidelines recommend 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on 4 to 7 days of the week. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or becoming more physically active)
- drinking too much alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day or 10 drinks per week for women or more than 3 drinks per day or 15 drinks per week for men)
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help you reduce your stroke risk.
Other medical conditions that can increase your stroke risk:
- atrial fibrillation: causes an abnormal heartbeat, which makes blood pool and clot in the heart. These clots can move to the brain and cause a stroke. Learn more about atrial fibrillation and stroke risk reduction.
- diabetes: increases the risk of high blood pressure and damages the blood vessels, both of which can cause a stroke. Learn more about diabetes and stroke risk reduction.
- high blood pressure: damages blood vessels so they are more likely to clog up or burst, leading to a stroke. Learn more about high blood pressure and stroke risk reduction.
Some people may have other risk factors for stroke. Talk to your doctor to find out about how to reduce your risk of stroke due to high cholesterol and other risk factors.
To find out your risk of a stroke in the next 10 years, use the stroke risk assessment calculator.