Letnick: Show your heart some love

It’s extremely important that we work diligently on the heart healthy lifestyle factors that we can control.

When it comes to cardiovascular disease—namely heart disease and stroke—millions of Canadians are at risk.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation says about 50,000 strokes, 70,000 heart attacks and up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur every year across Canada.

Here in B.C., our ministry of health reports 3.1 per cent of the population has heart disease and this has remained steady over the last decade.

By making healthy living choices, some of the risks that cause cardiovascular disease can be addressed such as high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol; diabetes; being overweight; excessive alcohol consumption; physical inactivity; smoking; and stress.

But the five major risk factors we can’t change: Age, gender, family history, ethnicity, and prior stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack, also known as a ‘mini-stroke’).

It’s extremely important that we work diligently on the lifestyle factors that we can control.

Personally, I’m a big fan of using technology to keep myself accountable to my healthy living goals.

I use myfitnesspal, an app for my phone and computer which helps me keep track of what I eat and the exercise I get.

It’s also vital that we set healthy habits for our children and grandchildren early on.

Just this week, our government announced an additional $2 million to help ensure the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it! (MEND) program continues in existing sites like Kelowna and can expand to more communities throughout British Columbia.

This fun, interactive and free program helps families with children above a healthy weight achieve a more active lifestyle.

Kelowna will add a second site this winter, thanks to this funding.

Meantime, our government’s 2016 balanced budget continues funding for the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.

This fruit, vegetable and dairy program serves fresh B.C. agricultural products to 549,000 students in more than 1,400 schools.

When a cardiac event does occur, it’s reassuring to know we’ve got top-quality facilities and outstanding medical professionals here in the Okanagan to help.

The new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre in Kelowna provides clinical space for up to 600 open-heart procedures per year, and is giving patients the care they need closer to home and saving families money from having to travel to the coast.

But in a bid to keep as many of us out of hospital as possible, I’m hosting my second annual Community Spring Climb for Health & World Peace at Knox Mountain Park.

It takes place on Saturday, April 2. This year a lucky participant will win two return tickets on any regular scheduled WestJet flight (including Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean).

Participants can choose from two running/walking/biking/roller blading routes—an easier trail, and a more challenging trail up Knox Mountain Park.

For more information or to register, please visit my website  normletnickmla.bc.ca. Looking forward to seeing you there.

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