Risk factors of stroke Certain factors that increase risk of stroke include… 1) Family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack. 2) Older people High cholesterol — cholesterol build up fatty deposits (plaque) on blood vessel walls. The deposits can block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. Diet, exercise, and family history affect blood cholesterol levels. 4) high blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke. High BP damage blood vessels called arteries that supply blood to the brain. Stroke is more common in men than women. Blacks are more likely to have strokes than are people of other races. 5) Cigarette smoking 6) Diabetes increases the risk of stroke . Diabetes is a condition that causes blood to build up too much sugar instead of delivering it to body tissues. High blood sugar tends to occur with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 8) Physical inactivity. 9 ) Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, a heart defect, heart infection, or abnormal heart rhythm. can increase risk for stroke . heart valve defects, irregular heartbeat (including atrial fibrillation), and enlarged heart chambers, can cause blood clots that may break loose and cause a stroke. 10) Use of birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen. 11) Heavy drinking. 12) Use of drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines. 13) sickle cell disease. This is a blood disorder that is associated with ischemic stroke,. A stroke can happen if sickle cells get stuck in a blood vessel and clog blood flow to the brain.