by Vladimire Herard


The correct dosage of aspirin, certain classes of drugs, regular exercise, vitamins B12 and D and weight loss can give you a lift in preventing heart attack and stroke, authorities say.


The recommendations stem from research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association, the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Heart Attack Alert Program on both diseases.


These researchers all state that the use of aspirin, prescribed drugs, physical fitness, vitamins and weight management will lead to improved heart health.


Risks and Similarities Between Heart Attacks and Strokes


The organizations report that both heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death among 931,000 individuals nationwide. For women, heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading killers respectively.


Nearly 800,000 individuals nationally may have a heart attack annually. Out of this figure, nearly 600,000 such incidents take place for the first time and 200,000 cases occur among people who already experienced one before.


About 15 percent of those who have had a heart attack perish. Nearly half of heart attacks take place outside of a healthcare setting. Heart attacks and strokes are two different forms of illness but have similarities in risk factors.


Risk factors include high blood pressure or cholesterol, cigarette use, having undergone a heart attack or stroke before or managing diabetes. These all boost your odds of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack.


Heart attacks or strokes are usually caused by an obstructed blood flow to the heart, which may stem from a blood clot in an artery. When blood flow is restricted or blocked, it causes the cells of the heart muscle to fail to receive enough oxygen via blood and die and leads to a heart attack.


The longer it takes for medical treatment to restore blood flow, the more damage is done to the heart muscle. Additionally, when the brain is lacking blood, the effect is a stroke.


However, symptoms differ between the two forms of illness, according to the National Heart Attack Alert Program.


For heart attacks, signs include pressure discomfort, a sensation of fullness or squeezing in the middle of the chest lasting several minutes, pain in one of the arms or both, back, neck, jaw or stomach, a feeling of running out of breath, dizziness, nausea and a cold sweat.


The signs of a stroke include numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly one side of the body, mental confusion or difficulty speaking, visual impairment in one or both eyes, trouble in walking and keeping balance, dizziness or severe headaches with no cause.


As a result of these similarities, actions taken against one form of the disease are beneficial against the other, researchers say.


Sound Diet, Weight Loss


A proper diet and regular physical exercise assists you in managing or losing excess weight, which lowers your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. Extra weight, diabetes and blood pressure factor heavily into heart disease and stroke.


The American Diabetes Association recommends that you draw from the four major food groups to follow a balanced diet. You may consult your primary care, family practice or general medicine doctor, nurse or nutritionist, especially about weight gain and diabetes if you have it, your medications, your diet and exercise regimen.


To maintain a proper diet, you must choose six to 11 servings per day of breads, grains and other starches. For vegetables, you are to elect three to five servings per day. For fruits, you should select two to four servings per day.


For milk and other dairy products, you are to pick two to three servings per day. For meat, substititutes and other proteins, you get four to six ounces per day. Your consumption of fats, oils and sweets are to remain small.


Eating healthy is not only about consuming less of the foods you enjoy or shedding pounds but also about making changes to aspects of your lifestyle that are unhealthful. In meal planning, you may be pleased to find that you can still indulge in most of the same foods you currently eat.


Vitamins, Supplements, Aspirin, Drugs


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you use folic acid, a B vitamin, to add to grain products such as bread to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, that can compromise heart health.


Once a form of medication to prevent birth defects, folic acid has saved 50,000 individuals nationwide from stroke and heart disease annually since 1996.


Different brands of medicine may assist in preserving heart health as well. An article in the British journal Lancet finds that statins, mostly used by individuals in danger of a heart attack, can also guard against stroke.


Statins are a category of medication used to lower the levels of cholesterol in the blood. The cholesterol is made by the liver. These drugs work to decrease the amount of cholesterol made in the liver and to help this organ to get rid of any more already in the blood.


Another study in the journal Circulation reports that a four-drug cocktail intended to decrease the risk of stroke can also lower the danger of experiencing a heart attack or angina within six months by 90 percent.


As a new trend, more than one drug can be used to treat a condition rather than just one, researchers say.


While it has not been cited on its label for such use, you can take aspirin to cut back on your risk of a heart attack or stroke. As a result, you will not find guidance on the label for how to choose and use the medicine safely.


As a result, you must consult with your primary care, family practice or general medicine doctor about the proper use of aspirin. Aspirin is found to assist in decreasing the risk of heart attack, blood clots, strokes and other circulatory problems and your physician can prescribe it to you for that purpose.


Still, as with many medications, use of aspirin to increase blood flow to the heart and brain carries with it severe side effects such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure and some strokes.


When you discuss the use of aspirin with your doctor, he or she will review yours and your family’s medical history, your use of other drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, your use of other products such as dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbals, your allergies, the benefits of medicine, side effects, the dosage and directions for use.


Your doctor’s review of your health will include your medical conditions such as pregnancy, high blood pressure, bleeding illnesses, asthma, stomach ulcers and the states of your liver and kidney. Any of these conditions can make aspirin unusable for you.


Physical Exercise


Sticking with a physical fitness regimen go hand in hand with a balanced diet to become and remain healthy, sleep well, prevent heart disease, manage diabetes if you have it, control your weight and stay active.


Exercise controls sugar and cholesterol levels in your blood. It also burns extra calories and fat to help you manage weight. However, a sound regimen does not consist of just taking hours at a gym, running or jogging. It can extend to all types of physical activity.


Staying fit can mean a walk around the block, climbing the stairs instead of the elevator, mowing your frontyard or backyard, gardening, parking your car away from your place of destination and then walking, dancing, bowling, biking, vaccuuming, swimming and washing your car.


You should consult your physician before embarking on physical activity to ensure you select a regime that works best for you. If you have not engaged in exercise in weeks, months or years, you can start with ten minutes three times a day or a half-hour outside.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,


  1. The American Diabetes Association,


  1. Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ., et al. the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee, “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics,” 2016 update: Circulation journal. 2016; 133: e38-e360.


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