A Perfect Storm of Heart Disease Looming On Our Horizon

From the Heart and Stroke Foundation...

Heart disease has changed dramatically in a short period of time in Canada. It now includes groups that previously were thought to be immune to the disease. This has been the result of a combination of unhealthy habits that Canadians have adopted which has ultimately accelerated the impact of the threats as well as disregarding any progress that we have made.

High blood pressure, diabetes and obesity which have continuously been found to be a major culprit in the development of heart disease have increased dramatically. Stephen Samis, director of Health policy stated that “The magnitude of this problem has become so large, the only way forward is to implement a comprehensive, Canadian heart-health strategy that focuses on at-risk and disadvantaged populations, address the disparities between provinces and territories and integrates Canada’s fragmented system.

These groups include:

Young Canadian Adults - increased levels of inactivity, obesity, smoking high blood pressure and diabetes

The Aging population - One in five adults 50-64 years of age have two or more of the major risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity. Residents in Newfoundland and Labrador are most at risk.

Canada’s Aboriginal people - Have far worse overall cardiovascular health than the general Canadian population.

Ethnic Populations - Canadians of south Asian and African-Caribbean are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. They may also develop heart disease 5 to 10 years earlier than other ethnic groups.

Women - Women have been found to be protected against hear disease until mid life but unfortunately this is beginning to be less accurate due to unhealthy habits.

In general there is an epidemic of inactivity and obesity. Canadians are also suffering from unhealthy eating habits with the majority not getting enough fruits and vegetables.

In order to achieve a more heart healthy population strategies need to include: create heart healthy environments; help Canadian lead healthier lives; end the cardiovascular health crisis among the aboriginals; continue health services reform, enhance prevention and care, develop heart health human resources.

There is no federally funded strategy for the number one killer of Canadians: heart disease and stroke. The heart health strategy and action plan was released in Feb 2009 but has not revieved funding. With an aging population and an increased threat seen amongst previously immune sub populations, this should be made a main priority. The key priorities at this time are the following:

- Improving the nutritional health of all Canadians and addressing the rising rates of obesity.

- Improving cardiovascular awareness and prevention among women and reducing care inequalities by funding public education initiatives, such as the Foundation’s Heart Truth campaign.

- Improving our understanding and management of cardiovascular health.
Developing a multi-year action plan to meet the cardiovascular needs of aboriginal people.

- Providing specific strategies to help at-risk and disadvantaged populations understand and manage their heart-health risk.

A Perfect Storm of Heart Disease Looming On Our Horizon... get report here as a .pdf file