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Heart Attack or Stroke? Facts, Risks, 10 Signs to Act Now

February 8, 2017

According to CDC Million Hearts, cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 US deaths, with one-fifth of them occurring in people under the age of 65. Each year, Americans suffer 1,500,000 heart attacks and strokes, making them two of the most widespread US health problems [1].


Your body depends on your heart, vessels, and blood (the cardiovascular system) to transport nutrients and oxygen. Over time, arteries may narrow from cholesterol buildup. If a blood clot blocks a narrowed vessel, tissues with low blood supply (ischemia) start to die. In the heart, this is called a heart attack, or myocardial infarction. In the brain, it's called an ischemic stroke. A less common stroke type, hemorrhagic, occurs if a blood vessel ruptures in the brain.

 Video: What happens during a heart attack?



Signs of heart attack and stroke are a life-threatening emergency. If warning signs are present, call 9-1-1 immediately:


If you suspect a stroke, act FAST:

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a short phrase. Is their speech slurred or jumbled?
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately and note the time.


Time is essential during heart attack or stroke. Rapid treatment greatly increases the victim's chance of survival, and reduces complications like disability and rehabilitation time [2,3].


The risk factors you can influence are:

·         unhealthy cholesterol

·         diabetes

·         high blood pressure

·         smoking

·         being overweight

·         low physical activity

·         more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day


We will cover these in the coming weeks. In the meantime, learn more about lifestyle risk factors and visit the CDC Heart Disease Facts Page.


Tune in next week to learn about cholesterol!




Workplace Wellness Wednesday is an awareness bulletin to help you make healthy lifestyle choices. It is not a substitute for your healthcare provider.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Costs & Consequences. Million Hearts website. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/learn-prevent/cost-consequences.html. Accessed January 24, 2017.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke Treatment. https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/treatments.htm. Accessed February 6, 2017.

3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is a Heart Attack? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/. Accessed February 6, 2017.

Excerpt: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Leading causes of death and numbers of deaths, by sex, race, and Hispanic origin: United States, 1980 and 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus15.pdf#019. Accessed February 8, 2017.



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