The risk of having a heart attack or stroke increases as you get older. Although either one can be fatal, most of them are not. Fortunately, there are some predictors that can reveal that a heart attack or stroke may be coming soon, or that you may be a likely candidate for one.
Every year, about 880,000 Americans die from stroke, heart disease, and other diseases of the cardiovascular system. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the fifth most common cause. People with a low risk of cardiovascular disease typically live ten years longer, so understanding your risk can enable you to do something about it before it happens.
Some predictors of heart disease and stroke are common to both sexes. The most common factor in both was BMI. When BMI is considered high – above 30.0 (40 in. for men and 35 in. for women) – the body becomes more susceptible to getting 13 types of cancer and more than 200 other health problems.
Another common factor is high blood pressure. It is dangerous because it damages the arteries that go to the heart and brain. Once damaged, plaque can build up on the walls, which restricts blood flow and may even block arteries completely. A blood pressure reading over 130/80 mmHg is considered high. Adolescents having higher readings than this have double the likelihood of having a stroke 35 years later.
Another predictor of a heart attack or stroke is rather surprising – it is fructose – a sugar. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar, normally found in fruit and some vegetables. This sugar is found in many foods as an additive in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Researchers believe that this sugar leads to vascular stiffness in every age. Although the fructose that you get from fruit is not enough to be concerned about, large amounts of high fructose corn syrup is a problem and can lead to serious health issues. It can lead to insulin resistance, liver disorders, diabetes, and obesity. HFCS is found in sodas, fruit juices, specialty coffees, and some processed foods.
People with excellent heart health naturally have longer lifespans than those with poor heart health. It also led to a longer disease-free lifespan, which leads to longer longevity. Those who seek to maintain their heart health, no matter what their socioeconomic status, tend to live longer.
Maintaining good heart health is key to extending your mortality. Do not wait until you have stroke symptoms before starting to reduce your risk factors. The things that will strengthen your heart can add years to your life. Aiming to prevent a heart attack and stroke also helps to improve your overall health and to prevent cancer and dementia.
Smoking is another strong risk factor. Even if you only smoke occasionally, you raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke. The smoke from cigarettes or cigars reduces the amount of oxygen going to your heart and lungs. With less oxygen in the blood stream, clots can form that restrict or even cut off the flow of blood – and that is what causes heart attacks and strokes.
Once the predictors of heart attack and stroke are understood, you can do something about it. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are two good tools for stroke prevention. They
can help prolong your longevity and enable you to continue to have a better quality of life.