The National Stroke Association has dubbed May as National Stroke Awareness Month, which is designed to inform people about the dangers of a stroke and to educate people on controlling their risk factors.

Many people severely underestimate their stroke risk

Among the many reasons stroke remains one of the most dangerous medical conditions for Americans, perhaps the most important is this: despite the fact that nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year, many people don’t think they are at risk. For people with AFib and other stroke risk factors such as hypertension, now is the time to take steps to prevent a potentially deadly stroke.

If you have AFib, focus on controlling the big 4 stroke factors

You should have an in-depth conversation with your doctor about your entire spectrum of risk factors, but in the meantime, AFib patients can help manage their stroke risk by focusing on four key areas:

Improve your diet

When it comes to your heart health, the old adage “you are what you eat” is extremely apt. As a simple guideline, ensure the bulk of your diet comes from heart-healthy foods such as vegetables, whole fruits, legumes, and whole grains, and consume everything else sparingly.

Get adequate physical activity

Many people with health issues think that if they can’t run a marathon or squat 300 pounds there’s no point in exercising. In reality, studies have confirmed that any kind of physical activity is better for the heart than none at all and that sedentary people can greatly improve their heart health by committing to moderate exercise, even when they are older.

Don’t smoke or be around smokers

Smoking greatly increases your risk of a stroke, and while smoking rates are down in the U.S. in recent years, the CDC notes that it is still the leading cause of preventable death in the country. If you smoke, make a plan to quit now. If you live with someone who smokes, talk to them about quitting for their health and yours — or at the very least no longer smoking in the home.

Make a treatment plan with a cardiac electrophysiologist

A cardiac electrophysiologist is a doctor that specializes in treating heart rhythm conditions such as atrial fibrillation, and they can help you create a personalized plan to treat your AFib effectively and minimize your stroke risk.

National Stroke Awareness Month is focused on prevention

Once you have suffered a stroke, whether it is mild or severe, the damage is done. That’s why National Stroke Awareness Month aims to arm people with the knowledge that will help them prevent strokes in the first place.

At Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A., we specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of heart rhythm problems that can increase your risk of a stroke. If you have concerns about your stroke risk, schedule a consultation today to put yourself on the path to improved heart health.