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Know your risk

Anyone can be at risk for cardiovascular disease or stroke. And while the two conditions are different, they share many risk factors. Additionally, patients with heart disease are at increased risk of having a heart attack. Stroke and heart disease risk factors include:

  • Family history of stroke
  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Atrial fibrillation (Afib)
  • High cholesterol
  • Being overweight or inactive
  • Stress

Take control of your health

While some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as family history and age, you can make certain lifestyle changes to better protect your heart and brain. Try these strategies to decrease your risk.

Learn to eat right and love it.

You need the right mix of fruit, vegetables, lean meat or other protein, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil or those found in nuts, seeds and fatty fish. If you have high blood pressure, limit salt and avoid high-sodium processed foods. Try new recipes and foods to find healthy options that you enjoy. Your doctor or a dietitian can help.

Stay active.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Walking, dancing, working in the garden or playing with children can count. Talk to your doctor about what activities are best for you.

Manage your diabetes.

Your chances of having a stroke are 1.5 times higher than in people who don’t have diabetes. But you can lower your risk by taking care of your health and properly managing your blood glucose (ADA).

Control your high blood pressure.

Weakened arteries in the brain, resulting from high blood pressure, put you at a much higher risk for stroke — which is why managing high blood pressure is critical to reducing your chance of having a stroke (AHA).

Don’t use tobacco.

Smoking, secondhand smoke, smokeless tobacco – any method of taking nicotine into your body can affect your heart health. If you use tobacco, find a way to stop. Your doctor can help you find a method that works for you. You can also enroll in Beacon’s lifestyle program Freedom From Smoking

Limit alcohol intake.

Alcohol can increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels in your blood, which may also increase your risk for heart disease or stroke. As a general guideline:

  • Women should have no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day.

Watch your weight.

Being overweight puts an added strain on your heart and can lead to diabetes and other conditions that can damage your heart. Talk to your doctor about what is a healthy weight for you and how you can reach and maintain it.

Manage your stress.

No one can completely avoid stress, but you can find ways to reduce it and manage it in healthy ways. While the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clear, stress can take a toll on your overall health and can lead to unhealthy coping strategies, such as drinking, smoking or overeating. Instead, you can manage stress by getting plenty of rest, avoiding negative self-talk, taking breaks at work and at home, and learning simple relaxation methods. Some people benefit from meditation, counseling or even medication. Talk to your doctor if stress might be affecting your health and quality of life.

Stroke warning signs

Early stroke treatment can increase your chance of survival. It can also limit or prevent permanent brain damage. Remember to B.E. F.A.S.T.

Balance: Does the person have sudden trouble with balance, dizziness or coordination?

Eyes: Does the person have sudden trouble with blurred or double vision or seeing out of one or both eyes?

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately!

Remember, even people without risk factors can still have a stroke. Seek help as soon as you notice symptoms in yourself or others. 

Stroke education and resources

Heart attack warning signs

While not everyone with cardiovascular disease will have a heart attack, they are at greater risk. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort and pain. 
  • Upper body pain.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Anxiety.
  • Lightheadedness. 
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Heart palpitations.

Call to learn more.

 877.227.3440