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Stroke and Heart Disease: Reducing Your Risk

Making changes that make your arteries healthier will help lower your risk for both heart attack and stroke. If you have heart disease, you may need to work on a few aspects of your lifestyle. Keep in mind the things that are good for your arteries, heart and brain are also good for the rest of your body!

Your SCH healthcare provider can work with you to modify your lifestyle factors as needed to help prevent progression of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Factors you may need to work on include:


When it comes to prevention, diet is key. Changes you can make in order to reduce your risk include:

  • Reducing fat and cholesterol intake
  • Reducing sodium (salt) intake, especially if you have high blood pressure
  • Increasing your intake of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Eating lean proteins, such as fish, poultry and legumes (beans and peas) and eating less red meat and processed meats
  • Using low- or no-fat dairy products
  • Using vegetable and nut oils in limited amounts
  • Limiting sweets and processed foods such as chips, cookies and baked goods

Physical Activity

Your SCH provider may recommend that you increase your physical activity if you don’t lead a very active lifestyle. Depending on your situation, you can benefit from moderate to vigorous intensity activity for at least 40 minutes each day three to four days per week. Examples of moderate to vigorous activity include:

  • Walking at a brisk pace, about 3 to 4 miles per hour
  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Martial arts
  • Tennis
  • Riding a bike or a stationary bike

Weight Management

If you are overweight or obese, your SCH provider can work with you to lose weight and lower your BMI (body mass index) to a normal or near-normal level. Making dietary changes and increasing physical activity can help.


If you smoke, break the smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success. Keep an eye out, as SCH hosts a smoking cessation program several times each year. For more information, contact Mary Horsley at 606.783.6476.


Learn stress management techniques to help you deal with stress in your home and work life.