February is Heart Health month, a month meant for advocating and reminding us of the dangers of cardiovascular disease (Foundation, 2018). In 2013 and 2014 cardiovascular mortality rates came second both years as the leading causes of death in Canada. Nearly 20% of Canadian lives were taken in 2014 due to cardiovascular disease, meaning over fifty thousand Canadian passed away from cardiovascular disease alone (StatCan, 2017). The numbers don’t lie, and creating a whole month dedicated and more importantly to educate the population about cardio vascular disease is crucial. Let’s look at what is Cardio Vascular Disease and some preventative strategies you can imply into your own life to help prevent this disease.

Within our bodies we have arteries and veins that deliver blood all throughout our bodies. One of the primary causes of heart disease is a buildup of plaque in the artery wall. This build up is also known as atherosclerosis. When this plaque builds up it can restrict blood flow causing some of our organs to have a lack of oxygen, and without oxygen our bodies can’t function (Institute, 2017). Having a preventative approach to cardiovascular disease can lead not to just a healthy heart but an overall healthy life. Here are some ways to incorporate a preventative strategy into your life.

Eat a healthy diet:

Diet is one of the most debated topics in health. However, for heart disease most associations agree that a Mediterranean-style diet is the best tested prototype for cardiovascular disease. A diet that stresses whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry with moderate amounts of diary create a positive impact with someone dealing with cardiovascular disease (Sonia S Anand, 2016). On the other hand a diet that has a staple of refined grains, added sugars, trans-fats and processed red meats should be avoided.  When choosing food eat for the rainbow, meaning eat foods with a variety of colours.

Be physically Active:

Physical activity doesn’t need to be limited to the gym. Physical activity can be anywhere! Going for a leisurely bike ride, or a hike can be included into anyone’s life style, and it doesn’t cost the price of a gym membership. The importance of physical activity can’t be understated, researchers found that higher levels of fitness predicts lower mortality rates among people suffering from cardiovascular disease and other health implications (Douglas Darden, 2014). So, if you want to stay away from an illness, stay fit! Staying fit doesn’t mean spending a long time at the gym, in fact one study suggests that even training once per week can MAINTAIN a person’s muscle mass (Trappe, 2002). Furthermore, in terms of aerobic work if you suffer from cardiovascular disease, try going for long walks, swimming, light jogging, or biking 3-4 times per week (Laura J. Martin, 2016). Don’t think you need to always push yourself to the limit when dealing with cardiovascular disease, think of a program that will have longevity and keep you energized not demoralized.

Learn About the Symptoms:

First and for most, learning about the symptoms is the best way to get help at the right time. Chest discomfort is most common symptom associated with a possible heart attack. If you feel pressure, squeezing or any sort of pain in your chest, please contact an ambulance (Association, 2018). Shortness of breath can also be another common example of a heart attack waiting to show itself, once again if you feel these signs please contact an ambulance. Anything from cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness can be associated with an upcoming heat attack. If you feel any of these symptoms, please do yourself a favour and call an ambulance.

The importance of heart health can’t be understated. Knowledge is the best tool for fighting cardiovascular disease. Educate yourself and other about preventative strategies on the topic. The most important type of medicine you can give yourself is movement! If you would like to get involved with cardiovascular disease or donate, please visit the www.heartandstroke.ca were they have been fueling medical breakthroughs for over 60 years and have saved thousands of lives.

Author: Sam Doucette

References

Association, T. A. (2018). http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/911-Warnings-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_305346_SubHomePage.jsp

Douglas Darden, C. R. (2014). Physical Activity and Exercise for Secondary Prevention among Patients with Cardiovascular Disease. NCBI.

Foundation, T. H. (2018). The Heart Foundation. Retrieved from The Heart Foundation: https://www.theheartfoundation.org/heart-disease-facts/heart-awareness-month/

Institute, H. R. (2017). http://www.hricanada.org/. Retrieved from http://www.hricanada.org/: http://www.hricanada.org/about-heart-disease

Sonia S Anand, C. H.-G. (2016). Cardiovascular Disease: Importance of Solutions focused on the globalized food system. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4597475/

StatCan. (2017). http://www.statcan.gc.ca/. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2017001/article/14776-eng.htm

StatCan. (2018). http://www.statcan.gc.ca/. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/hlth36a-eng.htm

 

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