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What You Can Do to Lower the Chances of Heart Attack and Stroke

The diseases that involve the heart, blood vessels or both, are known as Cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Both heart attack and stroke come under the category of cardiovascular diseases, and are one of the leading causes of death for both women and men in the USA and globally.

According to the American Heart Association, almost 92 million US adults have at least 1 type of CVD. And when the stroke is considered separately from other CVDs, it ranks No. 5 among all causes of death, right behind the heart diseases, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and unintentional injuries/ accidents.

Causes of Heart Attack & Stroke

Heart attack and stroke both, are the result of some kind of interruption in the normal blood flow to the heart or the brain.

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An interruption in normal blood flow causes a lack of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, due to which heart or brain cells are not able to function normally, which at times leads to heart attack or stroke.

While a heart attack occurs due to a blockage in blood flow to a part of the heart; a stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted.

Symptoms of Heart Attack & Stroke

The signs and symptoms of a heart attack include unexplained dizziness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness or breaking out in a cold sweat.

On the other hand, signs and symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, face drooping, difficulty talking and sudden headache.

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Risk Factors for Heart Attack & Stroke

Some of the risk factors for heart attacks and strokes are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, age, smoking, excessive drinking and prior history of strokes or heart attacks.

Physical inactivity is also one of the risk factors for heart attacks. Additional risk factors for strokes are genetics and use of birth control pills. While men are at a greater risk of having a heart attack, women are more likely to suffer a stroke.

Heart attacks and strokes are two life-threatening problems, but you can take the necessary steps to reduce your risk of having either of them.

Here are some tips to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

1. Stay Informed

The best course of strategy for preventing a heart attack and stroke is by understanding their risk factors, symptoms and treatment options. Ignorance about your health can put you at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

There are some risk factors for heart attack and stroke that you can either control or manage, like, blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, smoking and stress.

Consult your doctor if you have any health problem and make a note of the instructions given by the doctor. Follow the prescriptions given by the doctor with a strict routine and talk to your doctor if you are unable to take the medicines due to their side effects or for any other reason.

stay informed

Try to stay informed about the new techniques and insights that are constantly developing in the field of medicine and talk to your doctor about new medicines and procedures.

Furthermore, always brush up your memory regarding the warning signs of either of the life-threatening conditions and be prepared to take the necessary steps (like calling the ambulance right away) in case you notice the warning signs.

Learn about the warning signs of a heart attack, here.

Learn about the warning signs of a stroke, here.

2. Quit Smoking

Smoking or using tobacco in any form considerably increases your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, and as per the 2009 study published in the Atherosclerosis journal, quitting the habit of smoking can be highly effective for improving your cardiovascular health.

Tobacco contains harmful chemicals that damage your blood cells which in turn affects the functioning of your heart and blood vessels. This, in turn, increases your risk of atherosclerosis, which can ultimately lead to a heart attack.

stop smoking

At the same time, smoking or even exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and strokes.

When it comes to heart disease or stroke prevention, no amount of smoking is safe. Hence, if you smoke, quit today.

If you know someone who smokes, encourage him or her to quit. Also, take the necessary steps to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

3. Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet

Being careful about what you eat can help lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, improving your diet is an important step towards preventing heart diseases. Try to eat nutrient-rich foods that have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, but are lower in calories.

healthy diet

  • Eat 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits daily.
  • Eat a high-fiber breakfast cereal at least 4 times a week.
  • Eat more cereals, legumes, whole-grain foods and low-fat dairy products.
  • Eat cold-water fish like salmon and tuna at least twice a week.
  • Avoid high-fat and high-sugar products and reduce your salt intake.
  • Use a healthy cooking oil like olive, canola, sunflower or safflower oil.
  • Instead of deep-frying, prepare your foods by grilling, boiling, steaming and baking.

4. Exercise a Little Every day

Regular exercise can help manage heart disease and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, the more you exercise, the lower is your risk for heart diseases, as physical inactivity is also one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

People who are physically active have a lesser chance of a heart attack and also in the case, they do get a heart attack, then they have a better chance of recovery than people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

exercise

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Regular exercise benefits the heart in many ways, such as reducing body weight, blood pressure, and bad (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) and total cholesterol levels. It also helps increase your good (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) cholesterol and insulin sensitivity.

According to the AHA, 30 minutes of physical exercise, five days a week can help improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Some good exercises for your heart are playing sports, walking, jogging, swimming, biking and more.

5. Maintain Healthy Body Weight

Being overweight, especially having fat around your waist, increases the risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. All these factors, in turn, heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.

To know whether you have a healthy percentage of body fat or excess weight, you can calculate your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered to be healthy. But if your BMI turns out to be 30 or above, then you are overweight.

lose weight

Furthermore, if the waist measurement in the case of men is greater than 40 inches or greater than 35 inches in the case of women, then also it is a case of being overweight.

If you happen to fall into the category of being overweight, then you would need to lose some pounds to reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. However, strive to lose weight slowly and avoid crash dieting. You can always get help from an expert in weight loss.

6. Control Your Stress Level

According to a 2014 study done at the University of Pittsburgh, stress as well as anger, anxiety and depression not only affect the functioning of the heart but also increase the risk for heart disease.

Persisting stress increases the risk for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease by evoking negative emotions, which in turn raise the levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body called cytokines.

reduces stress

In addition, people who are under stress are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking too much and overeating.

If you suffer from stress, identify the triggers and try to avoid them. Also, it would be advisable to try to avoid people or situations that make you anxious or angry.

Some other stress-busting tips include being physically active, relaxing your mind (try meditation or yoga), taking time to laugh, taking vacations at regular intervals and spending time on your favorite hobby.

7. Manage Health Problems

As already mentioned, people suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are at a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes.

High blood pressure causes wear and tear of the inner lining of your blood vessels, which increases the risk of a heart attack. To maintain a healthy blood pressure, your blood pressure reading should be around 120/80 mmHg.

To lower high blood pressure, limit your salt intake, exercise regularly and take your medications as recommended by your doctor without fail.

get medical checkups

Cholesterol, a fatty substance, tends to accumulate along artery walls and can eventually trigger a heart attack or stroke. Blood cholesterol levels should remain below 200 mg/dL. You need to reduce your intake of saturated fat, get moving, and avoid smoking and drinking to reduce high cholesterol.

Lastly, as diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, take necessary steps to control your blood sugar level. High glucose levels in the blood cause damage to the arteries and increase the buildup of fatty deposits, thus increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Additional Tips

  • Get enough quality sleep as sleep deprivation can harm your health in many ways.
  • When taken in moderation, red wine can help protect against heart disease. However, excessive intake can raise blood pressure and triglyceride levels as well as damage your heart muscles.
  • Get regular health screenings and tests done to detect problems that may increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Consult your doctor to find out which screenings and tests you need based on your age, gender, family history and lifestyle.

Resources:

  1. Members WG, Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2017 Update. Circulation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408160. Published March 7, 2017.
  2. Goldstein LB, Bushnell CD, Adams RJ, et al. Guidelines for the Primary Backention of Stroke | Stroke. https://www.ahajournals.org. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/STR.0000000000000046. Published February 2011.
  3. Wei, Ming, Mitchell, et al. Effects of Cigarette Smoking, Diabetes, High Cholesterol, and Hypertension on All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Mexican Americans: The San Antonio Heart Study | American Journal of Epidemiology | Oxford Academic. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/144/11/1058/102937. Published December 1, 1996.
  4. Jin J. Warning Signs of a Stroke. JAMA Internal Medicine. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1861804. Published April 23, 2014.
  5. Erhardt L. Cigarette smoking: An undertreated risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021915009000148. Published January 15, 2009.
  6. Benjamin RM. Exposure to Tobacco Smoke Causes Immediate Damage: A … https://www.researchgate.net/publication/50350033_Exposure_to_Tobacco_Smoke_Causes_Immediate_Damage_A_Report_of_the_Surgeon_General. Published March 2011.
  7. Vandivier RW. Action on Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Exposure. JAMA Internal Medicine. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/1930721. Published January 1, 2015.
  8. Billinger SA, Arena R, Bernhardt J, et al. Physical activity and exercise recommendations for stroke survivors: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24846875. Published August 2014.
  9. Oja P, Titze S. Physical activity recommendations for public health: development and policy context. EPMA Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405391/. Published September 2011.
  10. Winter Y, Rohrmann S, Linseisen J, et al. Contribution of Obesity and Abdominal Fat Mass to Risk of Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attacks. AHA / ASA Journals. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.523001. Published December 2008.
  11. Kershaw KN, Brenes GA, Charles LE, et al. Associations of stressful life events and social strain with incident cardiovascular disease in the Women’s Health Initiative. Journal of the American Heart Association. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24973226. Published June 27, 2014.
  12. Manolio TA, Pearson TA, Wenger NK, Connor EB, Payne GH, Harlan WR. Cholesterol and heart disease in older persons and women review of an NHLBI workshop. Annals of Epidemiology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/104727979290051Q. Published July 14, 2010.

What You Can Do to Lower the Chances of Heart Attack and Stroke was last modified: September 26th, 2018 by Top10HomeRemedies
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8 thoughts on “What You Can Do to Lower the Chances of Heart Attack and Stroke”

  1. Interruption of blood flow through heart/brain causes heart attack/stroke. This is absolutely true. High BP shows, there is block somewhere in the blood circulation and as such heart is trying push blood through blocked arteries/veins. We should help the heart by increasing the BP. Then only the blood can reach the blood starving portion of the body. If there is block in a garden hose, we should pump water with pressure. It is as simple as that. If you artificially reduce the BP, the blood will not have enough pressure and blood flow is hampered. medical degree is not required to understand this simple fact.
    Heart attack and stroke occur due two reasons.
    1. Blood vessels squeezes due to lack of enough water in blood. This occurs in diabetic patients. Because of frequent urination excess water is drained out from the blood and as such blood squeezes. For prolonged period if this condition persists, the blood flow through heart/brain ceases. This gradual reduction of blood flow will not create any pain and patient falls dead without any pain. Pain will be felt only if the blood flow ceases all of a sudden due to hard block.
    2. When urine is drained out from blood, minute calcium granules accumulates and thus kidney stone is formed. The same calcium granules when flow through
    the blood gets accumulated in gall bladder, pancreas and heart. These granules are
    always covered by cholesterol so that these hard stone should not create injury in the blood vessels. This is called hard block. This type of blocks create so much pain in heart. (Pain full heart attack) Drink more than enough water. This water enters the blood and all blood vessels expands and become flexible. Excess water will
    increase the volume of blood and the BP is boosted up.

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