A new study has found people living in Windsor-Essex are at higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal conducted the study that looked at the health of 5.5 million people in Ontario between the ages of 40 and 79 over a five-year period.

Of the 14 local health integration networks, the Erie-St. Clair LHIN had the most heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular issues.

The study also found those living in Windsor-Essex are less likely to have an annual physical and fewer visits to their family doctor.

It also suggests people in the region tend to be obese, smoke and consume fewer fruits and vegetables.

"80% of the risk factors people have are preventable” says Holly Kirk-McLean, the area manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

"Sugar is a huge culprit and high in salt, certainly those are two huge pieces that will contribute."

Stats show nearly 4,400 people living in Windsor-Essex are hospitalized every year for heart disease or stroke related issues.

At the age of 36, Susan Robertson was rushed to hospital where doctors found arterial clots in all four lobes of her lungs. While in hospital she suffered a stroke and lost all function on the right side of her body.

"Stroke does not discriminate,” says Robertson. “It can happen at any age and anytime."

Family physician, Doctor Adam Sirek, says there is no better time to get out and active.

"Spring has hit us early, buds are coming out on the trees, we have the opportunity to get outside and exercise,” says Dr. Sirek. “Take a look at our lifestyle and how we can improve it so we can reduce the risk of stroke.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation offers a risk assessment you can take online.