If you are at risk for heart attack, you are also at increased risk for stroke, or brain attack. Thats because the same process that causes fatty plaques to build up in the arteries of your heart can affect the carotid arteries in your neck. If a carotid plaque ruptures or grows large enough to hinder blood flow to your brain, youll have a stroke.Stroke is not just a mans problem. It hugely impacts women, says Cleveland Clinic neurologist Irene Katzan, MD. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in this country and the most common cause of permanent disability. Stroke often leaves its victims unable to live independently at home, requiring them to move to assisted living or a nursing home.Ten factors play a role in 80 to 90 percent of strokes. Two risk factors-high blood pressure (hypertension) and high blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) levels-are very common. Therefore, a good way to prevent stroke is to make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol remain at normal levels.