Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease causes one in every four deaths in the United States. But you can reverse heart disease and stroke risk. By developing healthy habits, you can improve your overall health.
How Do You Protect Your Heart and Brain?
Your brain and heart are connected. That’s why it’s important to protect both from disease. A healthy heart helps lower the risk of brain diseases like stroke and vascular dementia (problems with memory, thinking and behavior caused by conditions that affect blood flow in the brain). To help keep your heart and brain healthy, try to practice the ABCS:
Aspirin can reduce blood clots by increasing the flow of blood to your heart and brain. Ask your healthcare provider if taking aspirin is right for you.
(B) Blood pressure
High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart disease. But you can control your blood pressure by choosing healthy nutrition, regular exercise and managing stress.
When your cholesterol is high, it can cause a build-up within your arteries and lead to heart disease. Lower your cholesterol levels by choosing foods high in fiber, increasing your exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing alcohol consumption.
Smoking negatively affects every organ, muscle and tissue in the body. If you smoke, quit. It’s not easy, but talk to your primary care provider to help you achieve your quit goals. Also, access CDC quit resources to help.
Lifestyle Changes the Whole Family Can Make
You and your family can also make positive lifestyle changes to improve your heart and brain health. For example, if you or anyone in your family has diabetes, make changes together to get it under control. Diabetes causes high blood sugar and damages blood vessels and nerves. That damage raises the risk of both heart disease and stroke.
Other lifestyle improvements you and your family can make for a healthy heart and brain include:
Bite by bite, you can start to make healthy eating choices. Work to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy or fortified soy alternatives in daily meals. Make it easy for every member of your family to reach for whole foods, and limit foods with salt, saturated fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Get regular physical activity
Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Regular physical activity helps improve your brain and heart health, helps manage blood sugar and insulin levels, helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens your bones and muscles, and improves your mood.
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What Are the Signs of Stroke?
A healthy heart helps lower the risk of brain diseases like stroke. And stroke symptoms can come on very quickly. So, if you suspect you or someone in your family is having a stroke, immediately take action - every minute counts. Acting FAST is key to better outcomes. You can spot a stroke by giving the FAST test designed by the National Stroke Association:
(F) Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
(A) Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
(S) Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
(T) Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
The effects of a stroke can cause permanent damage to your brain. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association also say that a severe headache that doesn’t appear to be triggered by anything can be a potential sign of a stroke.
What to Do If a Stroke Occurs?
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, act fast. Time is critical, and seconds count, so call 9-1-1 immediately; it can save a life.
If the person is unconscious, check their pulse and give CPR if you don’t detect a pulse.
It’s also important to write down the time when you first noticed the symptoms. Tracking the time is critical since physicians can use a clot-busting med
Your Next Steps to Healthy Living
Schedule an appointment with your Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare primary care physician today to discuss your heart health.
Talk to your doctor about your risk of heart disease or stroke.