Heart Disease and Stroke
It is interesting to note how heart disease and stroke are growing proportionally to the growth of overweight and obesity. The statistics and geography of the two seem to overlap. They are related. More overweight people and more obese people bring about more heart disease and stroke. Below you will discover how dangerous and preventable heart disease and stroke are. Also, the books offered here may help you avoid or overcome these problems.
Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease and stroke--the principal components of cardiovascular disease--are the first and third leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for more than 40% of all deaths.
About 950,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each year, which amounts to one death every 33 seconds.
Although heart disease and stroke are often thought to affect men and older people primarily, it is also a major killer of women and people in the prime of life.
Looking at only deaths due to heart disease or stroke, however, understates the health effects of these two conditions:
About 61 million Americans (almost one-fourth of the population) have some form of cardiovascular disease.
Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of premature, permanent disability among working adults.
Stroke alone accounts for the disability of more than 1 million Americans.
Almost 6 million hospitalizations each year are due to cardiovascular disease.
The economic effects of cardiovascular disease on the U.S. health care system grows larger as the population ages. In 2003, the cost of heart disease and stroke is projected to be $351 billion: $209 billion for health care expenditures and $142 billion for lost productivity from death and disability.
To build a nationwide program to prevent heart disease and stroke.
To reduce disparities in cardiovascular health among high-risk populations.
To define geographic variations in the risk factors and the rates of illness and death associated with heart disease and stroke.
To promote secondary prevention of heart disease and stroke.
To increase research into heart failure and to develop interventions to prevent it.
To develop and assess new methods for preventing heart disease and stroke.
Effectiveness of Efforts
Thirty years of research shows that measures such as encouraging healthier lifestyles and increasing early detection and intervention can 1) prevent heart disease and stroke for those who are healthy and 2) improve the health of people who have experienced these conditions. For example, people who stop smoking reduce their risk for heart disease rapidly and substantially. Improved nutrition and increased physical activity help to lower high blood pressure.
Research done during the 1980s shows that community interventions that change our environment (places where we work, play, learn, or live) are particularly effective in reducing heart disease and stroke throughout the entire community. For example, when a work place adopts a no-smoking policy, all employees benefit whether they smoke or not.
CDC was a leader in the development of Preventing Death and Disability from Cardiovascular Diseases: A State-Based Plan for Action. The purpose of this plan is to ensure that every state is part of a comprehensive national program to prevent heart disease and stroke, which includes targeting the risk factor that lead to these conditions.
Since 1998, CDC has funded state programs to prevent heart disease and stroke. At present, 28 states receive such funds.
Examples of State Activities
South Carolina: A 1-day workshop was set up to train teachers to help students avoid behaviors that put them at risk for heart disease and stroke later in their lives. In attendance were 93 teachers from 11 school districts. Evaluation of this program showed that 70% of the teachers incorporated the skills they learned into their daily lessons.
New York: The New York Healthy Heart Program developed a tool for assessing heart-healthy policies and environments and applied this tool at over 100 work sites. As a result of this assessment, work sites increased their support for heart health by 65%. These supports included more low-fat food choices, smoke-free workplace policies, physical activity breaks, and safer stairwells.
This page last reviewed August 10, 2004
States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
NINDS Stroke Information Page
Condensed from Stroke: Hope Through Research
Table of Contents
What is Stroke?
Is there any treatment?
What is the prognosis?
What research is being done?
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What is Stroke?
A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain stops. There are two different kinds of stroke. The most common is an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel or artery in the brain. The other, less common, is a hemorrhagic stroke, caused when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and spills blood into the surrounding tissue. Brain cells in the area begin to die, either because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function, or they are killed by the rupture of the vessel and sudden spill of blood.
The symptoms of stroke happen immediately:
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs (especially on one side of the body)
- Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Vision disturbances in one or both eyes
- Dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone else has these symptoms, seek immediate medical assistance. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the potential for permanent damage.
Doctors diagnose stroke by performing a short neurological examination, as well as blood tests, CT scans, MRI scans, Doppler ultrasound, and arteriography, if needed.
Ischemic strokes can be treated with a drug called t-PA that dissolves the clot or clots that are keeping blood from flowing to the brain. Because damaged brain cells can linger in a compromised but potentially viable state for several hours, the sooner treatment begins the better the chances of surviving without disabilities.
Stroke appears to run in some families who may either have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to stroke, or share a lifestyle that contributes to stroke risk factors. Other than genetic predisposition, additional risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Controlling these risk factors can decrease the likelihood of stroke.
The effects of a stroke range from mild to severe depending on the type of stroke, area of the brain affected, and the extent of the damage. Those who have survived a stroke may experience paralysis, pain, or numbness, as well as problems with thinking and speaking, and emotional changes. Many individuals will require physical therapy to regain strength and mobility, and occupational therapy to relearn how to perform everyday activities, such as eating, dressing, using the bathroom, etc. Speech therapy is appropriate for those who have trouble reading, understanding speech, or forming language.
NINDS-sponsored research investigates the full range of factors involved in stroke incidence, treatment, diagnosis, and prevention. Current programs are exploring the genetic origins of stroke predisposition, the prevalence of stroke among different racial and cultural groups in America, clinical applications of new therapies, and basic science studies to understand the biological mechanisms involved in the death or survival of brain cells during stroke.
For example, a recent clinical trial showed that aspirin is just as effective as a more expensive medication called warfarin for preventing additional strokes. Prior to this study, most clinicians believed that warfarin was a better blood thinner than aspirin, even though it was more expensive, required monthly blood tests for proper monitoring, and had a greater risk of side effects. The findings from this trial demonstrated that aspirin was not only cheaper and safer than warfarin for preventing stroke, it was just as effective.
Another study used a vaccine that interferes with inflammation inside blood vessels to reduce the frequency and severity of strokes in animal subjects that had high blood pressure and a genetic predisposition to stroke. Researchers are hopeful that the vaccine will work in humans, and could be used to prevent many of the strokes that occur each year in individuals with high risk factors.
Researchers are also looking at how chemicals present in the brain can be used to heal damaged brain cells after a stroke occurs. The findings from a study that used one of these natural chemicals in animal models showed that it could improve motor skills after a stroke by stimulating undamaged nerve fibers to grow new connections in the brain and spinal cord.
American Stroke Association: A Division of American
Stroke Clubs International
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.
Last updated December 13, 2004