The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s 2011 Report on Canadians’ Health warns that nine out of 10 Canadians are jeopardizing the quality and length of their lives. The Foundation found that many Canadians are in denial about their risk factors for heart disease such as being overweight and being physically inactive − risk factors they can manage and control.
Each year, about 250,000 potential years of life are lost in Canada due to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and other chronic heart-related conditions.
“Canadians know what to do to live healthier, longer lives. But there’s a huge disconnect between what we think we are doing to address our risk factors and reality,” says Dr. Beth Abramson, cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“We know that up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease is preventable – yet we’re not managing some of the most common and deadly cardiovascular risk factors as well as we think we are.”
Only about a third of Canadians polled by the Foundation said they are not physically active or don’t eat a minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruit per day. The reality is about half of Canadians don’t meet the physical activity and healthy eating recommendations.
“It’s not just years of life that are at stake,” explains Dr. Abramson. “It’s healthy quality years that can be gained. For example, by being physically active, you gain close to four years of life—three of those free of heart disease and stroke.”
There is now a new mobile app that helps Canadians take control of their heart health.
The new My Heart&Stroke Health App™ is designed to give Canadians an overview of their health and health risks, as well as tailored action plans for healthier living.
It is available for free at mobile app stores on Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Android. The app is classified under “Health & Fitness” or you can download it at heartandstroke.ca/mobileapps. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you can take the risk assessment online at heartandstroke.ca/risk.
The Foundation’s prescription for a healthy lifestyle and more quality years of life is to manage the risk factors that can be controlled: follow a healthy diet, be physically active, know and control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, be smoke-free, reduce stress, manage diabetes and limit alcohol consumption. Dr. Abramson also recommends that Canadians ask their healthcare providers to help them reach their goals.