What is cardiovascular disease (heart disease)?
Cardiovascular disease is defined as diseases and injuries of the cardiovascular system, which include the heart, as well as the system of blood vessels (veins and arteries) throughout the body and within the brain. There are several heart conditions caused by cardiovascular disease (Heart & Stroke Foundation).
Although there is currently no established provincial screening program for heart disease, you can take The Heart & Stroke Risk Assessment™ (Heart & Stroke Foundation) to help you find out what is putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
Reducing your risk of developing heart disease
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least 2 days a week.
Enjoy a balanced diet that is high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains and low in fat and sugar. EatRight Ontario offers free nutrition information on a variety of topics. You can directly call or email a registered dietitian who will answer your questions, provide meal planning advice and offer healthy eating tips and recipes.
Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can cause the buildup of blood clots, increase blood pressure and reduce the oxygen in your blood. These negative health effects can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Living a smoke-free lifestyle has many benefits for your health and the health of the people around you. Once you start to become smoke-free, you are giving your body the chance to recover and live a full life. At the Health Unit, there are public health nurses at your service to help you choose the best way(s) to quit smoking. The Smoker’ Helpline (Canadian Cancer Society) also provides services that offer support and information about quitting smoking.
Learn about the Health Unit’s tobacco cessation services.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke. Follow Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to reduce your risk for injuries and chronic diseases.
Healthy bodies come in different shapes and sizes. It is important to create a personal balance to health among physical, emotional, mental and spiritual factors. Success in living a healthy lifestyle is not measured by weight alone. Instead, rate yourself by how balanced your life is in terms of being active, eating well, feeling good about yourself and getting adequate sleep.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation provides a wealth of information about heart diseases.