Cardiovascular disease, such as myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke) can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
What is myocardial infarction?
Myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurs when blood supply to a part of the cardiac muscle, or the myocardium, is significantly reduced or interrupted. This is generally caused by a small blood clot in one of the blood vessels that nourishes the heart muscle (myocardium). The signs to watch out for are covered in detail in the following text: Be ready in case of myocardial infarction or cerebrovascular accident (CVA).
What is cerebrovascular accident (CVA)?
Cerebrovascular accident or stroke occurs when an artery that supplies blood to the brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot.
A person generally has one or more mini-strokes, also called “Transient Ischemic Attacks” (TIAs) before having a full-fledged stroke. A TIA is similar to a stroke, but contrary to a stroke, its symptoms disappear within 10 to 20 minutes. A TIA can occur months before a stroke. The first TIA must be considered an emergency, as it is one of the first warning signs of CVA.
The following text: Be ready in case of myocardial infarction or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) will provide you with accurate information about the signs and symptoms indicative of a stroke.
How can myocardial infarction and stroke be prevented?
It is possible to take control of several risk factors by making lifestyle changes. Some measures are likely to have a real impact on your cardiovascular and your overall health. Adopting them generally results in a decreased risk of myocardial infarction or stroke.
- Eat well. Proper nutrition is the basis of good health, especially in terms of cardiovascular health. Follow the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide.
- Quit smoking.Quitting smoking is undoubtedly the most effective way to maintain your cardiovascular health, not to mention its numerous other benefits! Your pharmacist can guide you and help you at every step of the process toward a smoke-free life.
- Physical activity.Physical activity makes you feel better while improving heart health. With this in mind, exercising 30 minutes a day is an appropriate objective to achieve.
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Drink in moderation if you consume alcohol.Follow the recommendations of Éduc’alcool.
- Monitor your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypercholesterolemia are three conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, especially when they are not well controlled.
Can medication be useful?
The first thing that should be done to prevent cardiovascular disease is to choose and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, this is not always enough. It isn’t uncommon for an individual to have to take medication to prevent the onset of myocardial infarction or stroke.
Here are some examples of medication that could be prescribed to you:
- medication to balance your blood glucose if you are diabetic
- medication to control your blood pressure, if you have high blood pressure
- medication to stabilize your cholesterol levels, if they are too high
- medication to prevent the formation of blood clots in the blood (which could lead to myocardial infarction or stroke)
- medication to protect your blood vessels and kidneys
These drugs are very important. So, don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about medication. Here are some examples of questions to ask the pharmacist:
- What benefits could I derive from it?
- What are the possible side effects?
- What drug interactions can it have with the other medications I take?
- How should I take this medication for optimal use (dosage, time of day, to be taken with or without food, etc.)?
- How should the medication be stored at home?
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking your preventive cardiovascular medication regularly are measures that can have a long-term impact on your life by preventing the onset of myocardial infarction or stroke. In addition to having a very high mortality rate, these conditions can have lasting consequences. It’s up to you to aim to live by the proverb "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!