Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes

Don't be a Victim - Protect Yourself

June 2005
More details
  • Publisher
    World Health Organization
  • Published
    1st June 2005
  • ISBN 9789241546720
  • Language English
  • Pages 44 pp.
  • Size 6.25" x 9.5"

You probably know someone -in your family or among your friends – who has had a heart attack or a stroke (a brain attack). These cardiovascular diseases - diseases of the heart and the blood vessels - are killing more and more people around the world, striking rich and poor alike.

Those who survive a heart attack or stroke often need to take long-term medical treatment. If you have ever had a heart attack or stroke, or had to care for someone who has, you will know that these diseases can seriously affect the life of both the patient and his, or her, family. The effects can even reach beyond the family to the community. Yet so many heart attacks and strokes could be prevented. That is why you should read this booklet.

This booklet explains why heart attacks and strokes happen and how you can avoid them. It tells you what you should do to avoid becoming a victim. It gives you guidance for your children too. A lot of the damage to the blood vessels starts at a young age. Children often need help to develop healthy habits, like eating a balanced diet and being active.

If you are at high risk, there is advice on the signs to look out for and what you can do to reduce your risk. If you have already had a heart attack or stroke, there is advice on how your condition can be treated and controlled and how you can improve your quality of life.

Following the advice in this booklet may mean changing your habits and routines, and that is often not easy. It helps to get lots of encouragement and support from your friends and family, and from your health care team. This booklet is not meant to take the place of your doctor, but by reading it, you are taking a positive step towards better health.

Key messages

1. Heart attacks and strokes are major killers in all parts of the world. But they can often be prevented.

2. You can protect yourself from heart attacks and strokes by investing a little time and effort.

3. Tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

4. Stopping tobacco use reduces the chance of a heart attack or stroke from the moment you stop.

5. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week will help to keep away heart attacks and strokes.

6. Eating at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and limiting your salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

7. High blood pressure has no symptoms, but can cause a sudden stroke or heart attack. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

8. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you have diabetes, control your blood pressure and blood sugar to minimize your risk.

9. Being overweight increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. To maintain an ideal body weight, take regular physical activity and eat a healthy diet.

10. Heart attacks and strokes can strike suddenly and can be fatal if assistance is not sought immediately.

World Health Organization

World Health Organization is a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, charged to act as the world's directing and coordinating authority on questions of human health. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries, and monitoring and assessing health trends.