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Healthy heart, healthy brain

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Healthy heart, healthy brain

Blog written by Indrani Acosta, MD. Dr. Acosta is a stroke neurologist and the Medical Director for stroke at AdventHealth in Central Florida.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month — a good time to learn about the connection between brain health and heart health.

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  • Stroke is the No.5 cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.
  • People with high blood pressure, heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)or have had a heart attack  are at an increased  risk of stroke.
  • Heart failure increases the risk for stroke because the heart is weakened and not able to pump blood to the body as it should. 
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke have common risk factors that can be controlled or treated:
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood pressure
    • Smoking
    • Diabetes
    • Physical inactivity
    • Overweight or obesity

So, a healthy heart can help your brain. This May, prioritize your brain health and keep stroke prevention top of mind by following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 and taking these three key steps:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
    It emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains; includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and limits sodium, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and red meats.
  • Engage in physical activity regularly.
    Exercise helps your brain de-stress and helps your heart stay healthy. Any movement counts- playing sports, exercising in the gym or going for a brisk walk can all make a physical and mental difference. 
  • Know your numbers.
    Take preventative steps now to avoid regret later. Keep track of your blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels to know your risk of developing certain conditions. Address them as soon as possible with your doctor.

It’s also important to know the warning signs of stroke — F.A.S.T. — a simple acronym that could save your life:

F-Face drooping
A-Arm weakness
S-Speech difficulty
T-Time to call 911

Ready to get your head in the game? Take this quiz to see how much you know about brain health.

Blog written by Indrani Acosta, MD. Dr. Acosta is a stroke neurologist and the Medical Director for stroke at AdventHealth in Central Florida. Read her bio here.