According to the American Heart Association, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year. And if you're about to have a stroke, your body has probably been warning you for a while. The problem is that these symptoms are often hard to detect. So, what if something inside your body could give those silent signs a louder voice? Abbott's tools can help empower physicians to both monitor for and treat conditions that contribute to stroke. Stroke Prevention Starts in the Heart Most people think of strokes as a problem with the brain. Sure, while most strokes happen because of a blood clot in the brain, that doesn't really get to the heart of the problem. After all, that clot likely started somewhere outside of the brain, often in the heart itself. That's what happens in people with atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat that causes blood to gather and clot in the heart before traveling to the brain. People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke, reports the American Stroke Association — and for them, each time their heart pumps irregularly, it's one of those 'warning signs' trying to raise the red flag. Try as we might, humans can't hear it. But remote cardiac monitoring tools tracking the heart's function from afar can interpret those signs and fire off an alarm that doctors and patients can hear, which has completely changed the game for reducing stroke risk in people with AFib. Heart Devices to the Rescue Take Abbott's Confirm Rx™ Insertable Cardiac Monitor, a tiny device that monitors the heart's activity around the clock, syncs up with a smartphone and tracks trouble like a bloodhound. At about the size of a large paperclip, the Confirm Rx™ ICM wirelessly transmits data, which means your doctor will know if something's wrong as soon as possible. By diagnosing conditions like AFib sooner, physicians can put patients on a path to treatment to help them avoid complications, such as clotting that could increase a person's risk of stroke. Of course, other types of heart devices can help reduce stroke risk along with cardiac monitoring, too. Abbott's AMPLATZER™ PFO Occluder works to seal up a hole in the heart, called a patent foramen ovale (PFO), which causes blood to leak from one atrium to the other. By sealing up that leak, the tiny mesh device can prevent stroke-causing clots. Reduce Your Stroke Risk with Better Heart Health Heart health plays a key role in stroke prevention, so one of the best ways to take care of your brain is to take care of your heart. Follow these tips to take control of your stroke risk factors — and if they sound familiar, they should! They're also great ways to protect against heart disease, too. Tackle high blood pressure by eating lots of vegetables, whole grains and fish. Also, watch your salt intake and cut back on foods with high cholesterol. Manage your weight by watching your calorie intake and exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Notify your doctor of any symptoms of AFib, which can include trouble breathing or heart palpitations. AFib can increase your risk of stroke. If you have diabetes, manage it with blood sugar monitoring, physical activity, medications and nutrition. Stop smoking, and avoid tobacco smoke when possible: Even secondhand smoke can raise your stroke risk by up to 30 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke may be a silent killer that attacks every 40 seconds, according to the AHA, but that doesn't mean you can't keep the risk at bay. Ask your doctor for your options, especially if you have AFib. After all, life should get better with every heartbeat, not worse. Take control of your risk — and know that usually, it starts with the heart.