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How to Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Inform your physician of your health history so that together you can work to control problems.

Stop smoking - smoking is the leading cause of stroke. It raises blood pressure and narrows blood vessels.

Monitor high blood pressure - High blood pressure damages vessels including those that supply blood to the brain.

Monitor your diet - Eating a low fat, low cholesterol diet and cutting back on fatty foods will help to lower cholesterol. Elevated cholesterol causes a plaque buildup in blood vessels. This plaque can partially or completely close blood vessels.

Develop an exercise program - Exercise is a good way to lose weight and help the heart and blood vessels work better. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Maintain a healthy weight - If you are overweight, your body may be turning excess fat and cholesterol into plaque. This plaque can reduce the blood flow through vessels making the heart work harder. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can reduce both risk factors.

Control diabetes - Untreated or elevated blood sugar causes blood vessel damage in the body. This can decrease blood flow to the brain.

Limit alcohol intake - Too much alcohol can raise the cholesterol level in you blood. Alcohol increases blood pressure and adds empty calories to your daily intake.

Take medications as prescribed - Your physician may prescribe medication to control your risk factors.