Healthy Living

Heart disease and stroke are the #1 and #5 causes of death in the United States, respectively, but they don't have to be. By taking charge of your health and visiting your physician for regular health assessments, you can lower your risk of developing these often preventable conditions.

The Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative is committed to improving the health of Kansans living in rural communities. To learn more about the collaborative, or for questions, please contact us.

Heart disease and stroke: A connected problem

Heart disease and stroke are separate illnesses that share an important connection: Those diagnosed with heart disease are at an increased risk for stroke. Likewise, those who have suffered a stroke are at risk for heart disease. Heart disease and stroke also share many of the same risk factors, including:

  • High HDL cholesterol
  • Low LDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Because of the similarities shared between heart disease and stroke, many of the same lifestyle choices can lower your risk for both diseases. Follow these guidelines to reduce your chances of developing heart disease or stroke.

  • Be active: Aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day. This could be something as simple as a brisk walk broken out into 10- or 15-minute intervals. Just 20 minutes of brisk walking can decrease your risk of heart disease by up to 10 percent.
  • Add more movement to your day: Just taking a few more steps a day can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Park farther away or take the stairs instead of using the elevator or escalator.
  • Eat real, eat whole: Avoid processed and sugary food as much as possible. Fill up your plate so that half of it contains fresh fruits and vegetables. The remaining half should include lean meat and whole grains.
  • Get good rest: On average adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is important for your heart health and overall well-being. If you suffer from sleepiness or fatigue, or you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, schedule an appointment with your physician.
  • Keep your weight in check: Obesity and weight gain put additional stress on your heart. Maintaining a stable, healthy weight can ward off heart disease and other illnesses. Keep your weight fluctuations minimal and aim to burn as many calories as you consume.
  • Quit smoking: Tobacco smoke is very harmful to your health. It negatively impacts almost every system in the body, including the cardiovascular system, respiratory system and central nervous system, among others. If you don't smoke, don't start.
  • Know your numbers: Visit your physician regularly to have your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar numbers checked. These numbers are often indicators of your risk for developing heart disease and stroke.


The following handouts are downloadable and printable for your convenience.