“He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.”
Since 1952 the cardiovascular death rate in Canada has declined by more than 75 per cent, and nearly 40 per cent in the last decade, largely due to research advances in surgical procedures, drug therapies and prevention efforts. (Statistics Canada 2011)
Cardiovascular disease and stroke continue to be two of the three leading causes of death in Canada; however, the good news is we now know that each of us have control over most risk factors linked to heart disease. The risk factors for heart disease include a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stress.
Below are some simple, common sense tips to keep your heart healthy.
Keep your weight under control—eating too much fatty and high calorie foods and being overweight puts stress and strain on your heart.
Those who need to lose weight should aim for a slow, steady weight loss by decreasing calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
Fat is very important in a well-balanced diet, however reducing the amount of fat will help reduce your cholesterol. Of the types of fat—saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat—saturated fat and trans fat are the ones to try to limit or avoid. Try to keep saturated fat to no more than 10 per cent of your daily calories. And, try to keep trans-fat out of your diet altogether.
Eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Two examples of heart-healthy food plans include the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean diet.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Exercise—we know that exercise is key for regular exercise improves heart function lowers your blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
The recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week and more is better.
Quit Smoking—quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to lower your chances of getting heart attack, respiratory diseases, emphysema and cancer.
Stress—too much stress actually hurts your heart and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. People with high levels of stress or prolonged stress have higher blood cholesterol, increased blood pressure and more prone to developing atherosclerosis.
See your doctor and monitor your health—checking your blood pressure regularity, watching your BMI , and having regular checkups and screening will go a long way in staying healthy.
Cut back on salt—eating too much salt is linked to high blood pressure. Consider putting less in your cooking and try not to add salt at the table. As well, limiting the amount of canned, boxed and processed foods will go a long way in reducing your sodium intake.
For more information on heart healthy recipes and tips contact The Heart and Stroke Foundation.