Posted on August 30, 2022

Stroke & Heart Attack Prevention Tips

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 877,500 Americans die of heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases every year. Fortunately, with increased awareness and some simple lifestyle changes, you can significantly lower your risk of these medical emergencies. Read on to find tips that will help you prevent heart attack and stroke.

What is a Stroke?

The most common cause of stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or reduced. Because of the blockage, the brain no longer gets the oxygen and nutrients it needs. This causes brain cells to die rapidly, and can even lead to bleeding in the brain.

Stroke Symptoms

Identifying a stroke right away is critical to preventing long-term brain damage and other issues. Here are some of the common stroke symptoms to watch out for:

  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech.
  • Confusion or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or extremities, especially on one side of the body.
  • One side of the face drooping when smiling or speaking.
  • Dizziness or loss of balance and coordination.
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden severe headache.

If you believe you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. The sooner treatment begins, the better the odds of reducing damage to the brain.

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack can occur when blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked. Typically these blockages are caused by the buildups of plaques in the arteries. Plaques are formed by excess fat, cholesterol, and other substances. When the blood flow is blocked to the heart, the muscles are damaged or even destroyed.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Just like strokes, quick action with heart attacks is the key to survival and successful recovery. If you have suspicion someone is having a heart attack, pick up the phone and call 911. Here are some of the symptoms of heart attacks to keep in mind:

  • Pain, tightness, pressure, squeezing, or aching in the chest.
  • Upper body pain that spreads to shoulders, arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweats.
  • Nausea.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.

5 Tips to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke

Although heart attack and stroke are very serious medical conditions, there are a number of ways you can adjust your habits and lifestyle to prevent them. Start adding any of these five tips into your regular routine to lower your risk.

Know Your Family History

Due to genetics, some people are more predisposed to heart attack and stroke risk than others. A good first step to prevention is understanding your family history. If your parents suffered from cardiovascular disease, make sure to discuss this with your primary care doctor. They can help you find a treatment plan specific to your situation that decreases the risk factors.

Stay Physically Active

It’s no secret that putting a premium on physical health is an important form of self care. Staying active is one of the best ways to prevent heart attack and stroke. It’s recommended that most adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, or a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Beneficial activities include biking, swimming, walking, jogging, or dancing.

Be Diet Conscious

The foods you eat every day have a significant impact on your stroke and heart attack risk. A heart and brain healthy diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins, and fish. Avoid foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats, added sugars, and trans fats.

Manage Your Weight

Obesity has been shown to increase risk for high cholesterol and high blood pressure – both precursors to cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, another area where your primary care doctor can assist you is determining a healthy weight and a plan to manage it for the long term. Often lifestyle changes like exercise, diet, and weight loss all go hand in hand, making it easier to create a holistic approach to stroke and heart attack prevention.

Avoid Tobacco

Smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco have significant negative health impacts ranging from heart disease to cancer. In fact, the World Stroke Organization reports that someone who smokes 20 cigarettes per day is six times more likely to have a stroke than a non-smoker. While using tobacco can be a tough habit to break, your body will thank you in the long run.

Schedule an Appointment at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa

At Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa, we put patients first, and our top priority is helping them meet their health goals. We were recently ranked in the top 10% for patient satisfaction, and go above and beyond to make care convenient and effective for the best possible experience.

If you’re looking for a primary care physician in the Cedar Rapids area, schedule an appointment online or utilize our walk-in care at your convenience.