Woman discussing the diabetes and stroke relationship with her doctor.

Understanding the Diabetes and Stroke Relationship

Discreet, On-The-Go, All-In-One Glucose Checks

Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body is unable to produce or doesn’t properly use insulin, which can cause blood glucose to rise to unhealthy levels. If you’re living with diabetes and unable to properly control your blood glucose, you may be at increased risk of developing serious diabetes-related complications, including stroke. 

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts, causing blood and oxygen flow to part of your brain to be interrupted. According to the American Stroke Association, people living with diabetes are two times as likely to have a stroke compared to people who don’t have diabetes. By understanding your risk of stroke and developing self-care strategies to control risk factors, you may be able to reduce your risk. 

The Diabetes and Stroke Relationship

The diabetes and stroke relationship is well established. When your diabetes is not effectively controlled through diet, exercise, and medication, your blood glucose levels can rise. When blood glucose levels remain high over an extended period, blood vessels can become damaged. Over time, high blood glucose levels can result in increased fatty deposits and clots in blood vessels. 

Fatty deposits and clots in blood vessels can block or narrow blood vessels in the brain or neck, which can interrupt blood supply, prevent oxygen from reaching the brain, and, consequently, cause a stroke. Research also suggests that people living with diabetes who have a stroke may be more likely to have poorer outcomes. 

The Diabetes and Stroke Relationship: Causes and Risk Factors

In addition to diabetes, a modifiable risk factor for stroke, there are several modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors that may further increase your risk of stroke:

Risk Factors for Stroke

Modifiable or Non-Modifiable?

Age (>55 years of age)


Sex (male)


Family background (African American)


Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack, or transient ischemic attack


Genetic factors (e.g., sickle cell disease)


Heart or blood vessel disease


High blood pressure 


High LDL cholesterol 


Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke




Physical inactivity


Excessive alcohol consumption


While you can’t change some of these factors, like age, sex, and family history, many of them are modifiable. By properly taking care of your diabetes and modifying those factors, you may lower your risk of having a stroke.

Know Your Diabetes ABCs

Understanding and caring for your diabetes ABCs not only helps you better manage your diabetes but may also reduce your risk of having a stroke. Here are the ABCs of diabetes:

  • A: Hemoglobin A1C (average blood glucose)
  • B: Blood pressure
  • C: Cholesterol
  • s: Stop smoking (or don’t start)

While people’s ABC targets can be different, there are general guidelines for target ranges for A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following targets:

  • A1C: Below 7% (or eAG below 154 mg/dL)
  • Blood pressure: below 140/90 mmHg

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends an LDL cholesterol target of less than 100 mg/dL. Be sure to ask your healthcare team what your target ABC numbers are and what you need to do to reach these goals. 

Reducing Your Risk of Stroke: What You Can Do

Tight glycemic control is considered a key strategy to reduce the risk of and prevent serious diabetes-related complications, including stroke. Staying in your target blood glucose range may reduce the chance of developing fatty deposits and clots in your blood vessels and, consequently, may reduce your risk of having a stroke. To keep blood glucose levels within your target range, your healthcare team will likely create a management plan involving aspects such as the following:

In addition, they may recommend healthy lifestyle changes to address other risk factors for stroke. This may include things like losing weight if needed, smoking cessation, and limiting alcohol consumption.

While eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and adhering to treatment are essential to diabetes management, it’s important to not forget about blood glucose testing. Regularly testing and tracking blood glucose levels not only allows you to understand whether your blood glucose levels are in your target range but also provides valuable insights like these:

  • How medication, exercise, diet, stress, illness, sleep, hormones, and other factors affect your blood glucose levels
  • How well your treatment plan is working and whether any adjustments are needed

If barriers—such as difficulty handling test strips, time constraints, and testing complexity—are interfering with your ability to test as frequently as you should, it might be time to look into newer diabetes management technologies. An automatic blood glucose monitor (ABGM), such as the POGO Automatic® Monitor, allows for automatic lancing and blood collection with the press of a button, making testing simple.

Creating Lifelong Healthy Habits

Learning about the diabetes and stroke relationship can be stressful and scary for people living with diabetes. But it’s important to understand your risk and know what to do to reduce it. Making diabetes management a priority, creating long-lasting healthy habits, and finding tools to make your daily self-care tasks easier can help you effectively manage your diabetes and address other risk factors for stroke.

Ready to Have Freedom at Your Fingertip?

POGO Automatic is the only FDA-cleared blood glucose monitor that lances and collects blood automatically, in one simple step, with its 10-test cartridge technology, eliminating the need to carry separate lancets and test strips. Reach out today to learn more about how you can check your blood glucose without interrupting your day.

 Jaclyn Owens, product director specializing in diabetes management tools

Jaclyn Owens

Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.

All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.