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Stroke Awareness: The Link Between Stroke & Heart Disease

Stroke is a cardiovascular disease that occurs when a blood vessel feeding the brain gets clogged or bursts. It is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

There is a significant link between stroke and heart disease when it comes to cardiovascular health. According to a study by the American Heart Association, the risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, or cardiovascular death 30 days after having a stroke for the first time was 23 times higher in men and 25 times higher in women. Heart failure, on the other hand, is also an associated risk factor for stroke. According to another study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, those with heart failure have around a 1.7% to 10.4% higher risk of ischemic stroke.

Cardiologists play a vital role in identifying the risk factors that can lead to stroke and heart disease.

Screening for risk factors

Cardiologists help patients identify potential risk factors for stroke, provide education on prevention and prescribe treatment to help manage existing risk factors. 

The most common risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart and blood vessel diseases
  • High LDL cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Family history and genetics 

A healthy diet and exercise routine may help prevent the risk factors that often lead to stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. If you’re at an increased risk, your doctor may prescribe specific tests to identify, manage, and treat your condition.

Common tests performed by cardiologists

Early detection of potential risk factors for stroke is the primary key to prevention. There are a variety of different tests that patients undergo when screening for the underlying conditions that could lead to a stroke. These tests are generally non-invasive and have no side-effects.

Common cardiac tests for stroke include:

Preventative lipid management

Your doctor may prescribe a lipid profile, which is a blood test to measure lipid levels for total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and HDL cholesterol, and others. These tests provide more information on your risk for stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, higher blood cholesterol levels raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. Patients who are already at risk or have had a stroke must regularly monitor and manage their lipid levels to prevent a recurring event.

Electrocardiogram

An electrocardiogram takes a snapshot of how the heart is functioning by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. It measures the timing of the lower and upper chambers of the heart as it beats. Your doctor will be able to determine any irregularities based on the information provided by the ECG.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart’s structure. This test helps your doctor further evaluate the heart’s function to monitor risks for heart disease and stroke.

Ultrasound

Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound procedure to examine the blood flow of your arteries between the heart and brain. This test also uses sound waves to produce images that check for narrowed arteries caused by a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and calcium circulating in the bloodstream.

Holter monitoring

A Holter monitor is a small recording device connected to electrodes placed on your chest to measure your heart rate and rhythm over a 24 to 48-hour period. Holter monitoring helps diagnose heart rhythm disturbances and is useful for heart monitoring after an occurrence of stroke. 

You may view a comprehensive list of the cardiology services and procedures we provide here.

Your risk of stroke may be associated with heart disease. Both conditions share common risk factors that, once identified, can be managed by living a healthier lifestyle. According to the CDC, up to 80% of strokes can be prevented. If you think you’re at risk, don’t wait to talk with your doctor, who can decide if scheduling a heart health screening is right for you. 

To schedule a heart health screening with our lead cardiologist, Dr. Suresh Patel, please call our office at (904) 259-7815.