• Neurosciences

    Mayo Clinic Minute: The link between heart disease and stroke

Every 34 seconds, a person in the U.S. dies from a cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. Together, heart disease and stroke account for more than 58% of cardiovascular disease deaths.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute 

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:00) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

Coronary artery disease, caused by a blockage of the blood vessels that supply the heart, and stroke, caused by damage to the blood vessels in the brain, carry many of the same risk factors. Understanding and managing these risks can help prevent both conditions.

“We target things like high blood pressure, hypertension, high cholesterol or hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, smoking, obstructive sleep apnea. We think about things like physical inactivity and obesity," says Dr. Stephen English, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

Dr. English says atrial fibrillation, a type of heart disease causing an abnormal heart rhythm, contributes to nearly 20% of stroke cases.

"Atrial fibrillation is something we can modify with medications based on the burden of your atrial fibrillation," he says.

a smiling older couple at home, sitting together on a couch, aging is a risk for heart disease and stroke

Not all risks for heart disease and stroke can be modified — for example, getting older.

"Even perfectly healthy people, as we age, develop changes, so our blood vessels become stiffer over time. And we're more at risk of developing things like atrial fibrillation as we age," says Dr. English.

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