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The heart of the matter: Strokes are not all in your head

Avoiding strokes in many cases requires better care of the heart
Posted at 10:51 AM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 12:58:39-04

BOISE, Idaho — May is stroke awareness month. Doctors say many strokes are mysterious. But one of the best things they say you can do to avoid strokes is to take care of your heart.

  • The cause of a stroke is not always known.
  • In recent years, strokes have been on the rise in young people.
  • Doctors say this is connected to a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

It;s finally May and along with all the flowers, that means it's also stroke awareness month. I’m senior reporter Roland Beres and it’s Wellness Wednesday where we’re healthier together. And you may think of a stroke as something that happens in your brain, but in many cases it's really something that begins in your heart.

Doctors don’t always know what causes every stroke.

"A stroke is essentially a brain heart attack," said Dr. Danny Noonan, President of High Desert Heart & Vascular.

Some can be mysterious, but Dr. Danny Noonan says many of them have to do with a heart condition called a-fib.

"So what we see is when you’re in a-fib. The top chambers in the heart quiver and when they quiver blood pools, when blood pools, it clots it gets pumped out of the heart and goes north to the brain and causes a stroke,” said Dr. Noonan.

Stroke has been on the rise in young people in recent years. A disturbing trend that UC Health says is connected in part to poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Many people don’t realize they have a-fib but it’s more common than you might think.

“In fact there’s more people walking around with atrial fibrillation than there are red hair and blue eyes. Red hair and blue eyes only 1.7 percent of the world’s population. Atrial fibrillation is significantly more common,” said Dr. Noonan.

So, what can yo do to avoid a-fib and stroke? Dr. Noonan says the most important things you can do are exercise, get good sleep, make sure your blood pressure is under control and maintain a healthy weight. I know, some are easier than others, but at the top of the list is getting regular exercise, just a walk a day can make a difference and lead to more activity down the road.