It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to live a heart healthy lifestyle, especially to those who have any of the following four conditions that increase the risk for stroke: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., and kills more than 140,000 Americans each year (this amounts to 1 out of 20 deaths in the United States). Strokes happen every 40 seconds, and lead to one death every 4 minutes. Did you know that approximately 80% of strokes could be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes? Read on to learn how to prevent 4 conditions that increase the risk for stroke.

High Blood Pressure

As the leading cause of stroke, high blood pressure (also called the “silent killer”) can be sneaky, as there are often no symptoms. To keep your blood pressure under control, be sure to get regular physical activity, limit your alcohol intake, eat a healthy diet limiting salt and sodium, and avoid using tobacco products. Be sure to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, and to follow your provider’s directions when you are required to take medication for it. High blood pressure is also common in people with diabetes.


According to Jane Pauley CHC Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Fleming, “High glucose can damage arteries, leading to fatty plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) which can cause heart attack or stroke.” To prevent or treat diabetes, be sure to get regular physical activity, and to eat a healthy diet. Physical activity is important, as obesity could lead to diabetes. Check your blood sugar levels regularly if you have been diagnosed with this disease. You can learn more about the basics of diabetes from our blog here.

High Cholesterol

Our bodies naturally create the amount of cholesterol that we really need, but we often get more than what we need in the foods we eat. This extra cholesterol can build up in the arteries, which could lead to stroke and heart attack. You can prevent high cholesterol by eating a healthy diet including fruits and veggies. Make sure the foods you eat are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, have no trans fats, but are also high in fiber. It is also important to get regular physical activity. Ask your provider to check your cholesterol at least once every five years.

Heart Disease

“Fatty plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) damages arteries feeding the heart (coronary artery disease) and the brain (cerebrovascular disease),” says Dr. Fleming. “Damaged arteries feeding the brain can block oxygen flow and cause a stroke.” Certain heart conditions can cause blood clots that could break loose and cause a stroke. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, learning the ABC’s of stroke prevention can help lower your risk of having a stroke.

Aspirin (Could help lower your risk of stroke)

Blood Pressure (Keep under control)

Cholesterol (Keep under control)

Smoking (Quit or don’t start)

The Jane Pauley Community Health Center provides complete care, and your heart health is important to us. Make an appointment today to talk with your provider about the risks of stroke, or to check your cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar levels. We will work with you to live a heart healthy lifestyle.

**Please do not make any exercise, diet, or medication changes without consulting your healthcare provider.