Heart disease and stroke are the first and fifth leading causes of death in the United States respectively. Combined, they are the most widespread health problems facing the country. It is estimated that every 40 seconds, an American adult dies of a heart attack, stroke or related disease. Ironically, these conditions are also considered easily preventable problems through lifestyle changes.
While heart disease does not directly cause stroke, it is a risk factor associated with stroke. Likewise, once someone has survived a stroke, they are then at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Risk factors for heart disease and stroke:
Heart disease and stroke are said to be linked because they have the same associated risk factors.
- High blood pressure: Abnormally high blood pressure makes the heart work extra hard, leaving the heart and arteries susceptible to injury. This places someone at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Diabetes: It is estimated that 75% of people with diabetes will die from some sort of heart disease or stroke.
- High cholesterol: Cholesterol or plaque buildup in the arteries can limit blood flow to the brain and lead to high blood pressure.
- Smoking: Smoking accelerates blood clot formation and leads to high blood pressure.
- Family history: Family history of heart disease or stroke puts one at a greater risk for each of these conditions.
Prevention of heart disease and stroke:
Heart disease and stroke are both highly preventable through changes in unhealthy lifestyle habits.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is a top contributor for both heart disease and stroke.
- Lose weight: The more overweight a person is, the more likely it is for them to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke.
- Participate in physical activity: Living a physically inactive lifestyle greatly increases the risk for many preventable diseases including heart disease and stroke. Physical activity can lead to a healthy weight and normalized blood pressure.
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