May 8, 2013 9:21 AM by Marissa Torres
A recent report shows fewer Americans are dying of stroke than ever before, but we're not in the clear yet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 800,000 people die in the United States each year from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
"All of us are at risk for a stroke, we see stroke in young people, we see it more commonly in the elderly with advancing age," says Dr. Chris Williams, a neurologist with Memorial Hospital.
For that reason, it's never too early too think about your heart health. Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. And today, it ranks as the number 4 cause of death, and leading cause of disability in the U.S..
"We still have a large segment of our population that isn't adequately treated for hypertension. And we still have people who smoke and who have elevated cholesterol, and certain lipids"
Dr. Williams says a genetic predisposition to the disease also increases risk-- even at a young age.
"I would say even in Colorado Springs, we see one or two a month that are young, what we call stroke in the young."
Protecting yourself comes down to regular exercise, eating healthy, and watching your saturated fat intake.
"Most important thing is to control the blood pressure, smoking is a significant risk factor. Making sure that if we come from a family where's there's heart attack and stroke, that we have checked up and know what our lipids our."
Knowing the signs of a stroke could make the difference between life and death. You'll experience the inability to move an arm, leg or weakness in the face. It can also be the inability to speak.
If you experience any of these symptoms-- you'll want to call 911 immediately.