The Link Between Heart Attack and Stroke
| 3 min read
A myocardial infarction, or heart attack, occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood or oxygen. The primary cause is coronary artery disease (CAD), which happens when plaque (i.e. cholesterol and fat) builds up on the artery walls. Over time, this causes them to narrow, which limits blood flow and induces an attack.
Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s a medical emergency that occurs when oxygen/nutrients are blocked from the brain, causing cells to die. Strokes can stem from clots (ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhage). Approximately 87% of strokes are ischemic and are the result of obstructions caused by fatty deposits on vessel walls.
Every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack or stroke. Here are the most common risk factors associated with both:
- Diet and nutrition
- Family history
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of physical activity
Heart attack and stroke are preventable. Reducing the risk of one can significantly reduce the risk of the other. Start by eating balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods that are high in sodium, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.
A primary care physician is an integral part of any health care regimen. Talk to them about monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol as well as managing a healthy diet. A doctor can provide professional guidance and preventive care in the form of screenings and in some cases, medication. Check your insurance coverage to determine what type of wellness exams are readily available.