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Protecting your heart may begin with washing your hands. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found some infections may serve as a trigger for heart attack or stroke.

The researchers analyzed health data collected from 1,312 patients who had a heart attack or other coronary event and 727 who had a stroke caused by a blood clot. The analysis revealed 37 percent of patients with heart disease and roughly 30 percent of those who had a stroke had developed an infection within three months prior. The most commonly reported infections were urinary tract infections, followed by pneumonia or other respiratory infections. Some skin and blood infections were also reported. The odds for a heart attack or stroke were highest two weeks after the infection.

When the body creates more white blood cells to fight the infection, the authors explained, the stickiness of platelets also increases, making it easier for blood clots to form. Additional research may answer if patients being treated for infections should also receive preventive treatment against stroke and heart attack.

To protect your heart and your brain, the American Heart Association recommends preventing infection whenever possible. Some ways to do that include:

• Staying up to date with all vaccinations, including flu shots;

• Washing your hands frequently;

• Eating a healthy diet;

• Exercising; and

• Getting sufficient sleep.

The right side of time

During every minute of a heart attack or a stroke, millions of cells are damaged or destroyed. Seeking emergency treatment as soon as symptoms begin can help prevent long-term damage to your heart and brain. Know the signs of heart attack and stroke and call for an ambulance if you or someone else experience them.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

• Chest pain or discomfort;

• Discomfort in the arm or shoulder;

• Lightheadedness;

• Nausea and vomiting;

• Pain in the jaw, neck, back or other areas of the upper body; and

• Shortness of breath.

The American Stroke Association has created the acronym F.A.S.T. as a convenient way to remember stroke symptoms:

• Face drooping;

• Arm weakness;

• Speech difficulty;

• Time to call 911.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, don't waste a precious second -- call 911 immediately. The emergency room at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is here for you and your family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through the AR SAVES program, SSRH uses a high-speed video communications system to help provide immediate, life-saving treatments to stroke patients 24 hours a day. The real-time video communication enables a stroke neurologist to evaluate whether emergency room physicians should use a powerful blood-clot dissolving agent within the critical three-hour period following the first signs of stroke.


• Ischemic strokes -- those caused by blood clots -- account for about 85 percent of strokes, according to the American Stroke Association.

• About 80 percent of strokes could be prevented with lifestyle changes and help controlling chronic health conditions, according to the ASA.

• A study in Stroke Journal estimates that stroke patients lose 1.9 million brain neurons per minute if left untreated.

Concerned about your heart health? Quality cardiovascular care is right around the corner at Northwest Health Cardiology in Siloam Springs. To schedule an appointment, call 479-215-3060.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a 73 licensed bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, one of the largest health networks in Northwest Arkansas, and through that affiliation is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a select group of independent health systems that work closely with Mayo Clinic to improve the delivery of health care and better serve their patients and their communities. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit

Community on 03/06/2019

Print Headline: Study identifies link between infections and vascular disease

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