Although many people are aware of the severity of stroke, some may be unaware of medical conditions that significantly increase stroke risk. Seeking medical attention and treatment for medical conditions associated with an elevated stroke risk can reduce the incidence of impairment and long-term disability from stroke.


Migraines, specifically migraine with auras, may increase your risk of stroke. In general, women are disproportionately affected by migraines, often due to the connection between estrogen and migraines. An additional condition that may be of concern when considering stroke risk is ocular migraines. Ocular migraines can be viewed as the visual disturbances commonly seen in migraines with aura but without the accompanying headache.

The underlying connection between migraines and stroke is believed to be blood vessel inflammation. If you have chronic migraines, it is best to seek out long-term treatments to minimize their occurrence. Typically, medications can be taken daily as a method of preventing future migraines or reducing their severity. Women with a history of migraines should avoid birth control or hormone therapies involving estrogen.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) is a heart condition where the heart beats in an irregular manner. Since these irregular heartbeats do not pump blood efficiently, A-Fib may cause the development of blood clots that may eventually cause a stroke. A-Fib does not always cause symptoms and may be identified during a routine exam after listening to the patient's heart. When A-Fib causes symptoms, it may be mistaken as anxiety, because the symptoms often include a quick, fluttering feeling in the chest, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath. Any uncomfortable symptoms should be investigated further. A simple electrocardiogram (EKG) can confirm A-Fib or other abnormalities in heart rhythm.

Transient Ischemic Attack

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) occurs when there is a clot blocking blood flow to or within the brain, but the clot dissolves on its own. TIA is easy to confuse with migraines because some people have a history of migraines with accompanying neurological symptoms, such as temporary weakness or visual impairments. Any condition causing stroke-like symptoms should warrant prompt emergency care.

With further testing, doctors may determine the origin of clots in the blood stream and possibly prevent a stroke. In the early stages of conditions, such as peripheral artery disease, small clots may break free and travel to the brain. If these clots dissolve on their own, there may be no permanent damage. Treatment with anticoagulants may prevent larger clots from forming and traveling through the blood stream at a later time.

Although there are several medical conditions that may increase your risk of stroke, they are all treatable if caught early. Learning the symptoms associated with these conditions can help you and your doctors develop a stroke risk reduction plan. Contact a company like Allegheny Brain And Spine Surgeons to learn more.