7 steps to heart health

  1. Get active
    Physical activity can be a lifesaver – literally. Inactivity can shave almost four years off a person’s expected lifespan. People who are physically inactive are twice as likely to be at risk for heart disease or stroke.
  2. Know and control cholesterol levels
    Almost 40 per cent of Canadian adults have high blood cholesterol, which can lead to the build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries – increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you can get your numbers back on track by making healthy dietary changes, participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, and becoming smoke-free.
  3. Follow a healthy diet
    Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health – yet more than half of Canadians don’t meet the healthy eating recommendations.
  4. Know and control blood pressure
    High blood pressure – often called a ‘silent killer’ because it has no warning signs or symptoms – affects one in five Canadians. By knowing and controlling your blood pressure, you can cut your risk of stroke by up to 40 per cent and heart attack by up to 25 per cent.
  5. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
    Sixty per cent of Canadian adults are either overweight or obese – major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Being obese can reduce your life span by almost four years.
  6. Manage diabetes
    By 2016 an estimated 2.4 million Canadians will live with diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), coronary artery disease, and stroke, particularly if your blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.
  7. Be smoke free
    More than 37,000 Canadians die each year due to tobacco use, and more than 6,000 non-smokers die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke. As soon as you become smoke-free, your risk of heart disease and stroke begins to decrease. Within one year, your chance of dying from smoking-related heart disease is cut in half. Within 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half. After 15 years your risk will be nearly that of a non-smoker. 

[source: Dr. Clyde Yancy, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC)]