According to Health Canada, a Canadian dies from heart disease or stroke every 7 minutes. That’s 206 people per day! Heart disease affects approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults, and is the second leading cause of death in Canada.
The Heart Research Institute says ninety percent of Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor for heart disease. What can you do to avoid being part of these alarming statistics? Luckily, research by The Heart and Stroke Foundation says 8 out of 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke cases are entirely preventable.
So let’s talk about prevention! You can reduce your risk by changing your lifestyle choices:
Quit (or do not start) smoking
It’s common knowledge, but we’ll say it anyways: quit (or don’t start) smoking. This includes marijuana too as studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and American Heart Journal show it should likely be avoided as well. While the evidence doesn’t seem as strong as with tobacco, we will be keeping our eyes open as the number of research studies increases due legalization of marijuana in Canada.
Get enough sleep
We talked about this in our last post, “The Connection Between Sleep and Heart Health”. Being underslept increases your risk of insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
While there’s some evidence a glass of red wine every now and again is good for your heart, it’s not a good idea to drink more under the guise of prevention. No alcohol at all is the healthiest for your overall health.
Get regular physical activity
Exercise that raises your heart rate for 20 minutes, for a minimum of three times a week is a good starting point. Full body movements are ideal, like walking, cycling, and swimming. You’re aiming to be out of breath, but still able to hold a conversation. Of course, the best kind of exercise is always the kind that you enjoy and actually do! So get moving!
Reducing stress is easy to say, but not always easy to do! Carve out the time to do the things you love. Spend time with your family, read, hike, or do some yoga. You can also learn how to set boundaries. Practice saying “no” which will help you cut back on stressful things you feel you “should” be doing. Meditation is another technique that helps, whether that’s in a group class, on your own, or using an app like Headway or Calm.
Eat nutritious foods
An easy place to begin is to start reading the ingredient labels on your food. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Aim for foods that your great grandmother might have cooked and used. A good place to start on a heart healthy diet includes:
Avoid the use of hormonal birth control
The estrogen in hormonal birth control can cause an increase in blood clots, particularly in women over the age of 35. Women who have increased risk of cardiovascular disease like age, being overweight, diabetes, or smoking should consider not using hormonal birth control.
These basic lifestyle factors can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems. According to Health Canada if you have already experienced a heart attack or stroke, they can help reduce your risk of having another one.
There are risk factors that we can’t control -- age, gender, family history, and ethnicity -- which makes the things we can control even more important.
While working preventatively and managing your lifestyle to be heart healthy doesn’t guarantee you won’t get heart disease, but it does mean you’re more likely to avoid or delay it.
We want to provide nothing but the highest quality information and advice for our followers to improve their health, which is why at Truehope Canada, we're happy to say our writer is a Certified Life Coach and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.