Heart disease and stroke are preventable

Heart & Stroke month, canvassers out

  • Feb. 23, 2011 4:00 p.m.

More women than men die of heart disease and stroke. In fact, these diseases are the leading cause of death among women in Canada.

Women need to know that recognizing symptoms, making lifestyle changes and seeking prompt treatment can save their lives.

Volunteers from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon will be in the Sooke area canvassing in your neighbourhood. Contributions go towards awareness, research, teaching and equipment.

“This is something you can do yourself,” said volunteer canvasser Beth Pattullo, referring to the ways women (and men) can help prevent heart disease and stroke. “There’s so much you can do, it’s taking control yourself.”

One of three women die of heart disease and stroke — but women can reduce their risk by as much as 80 per cent by making lifestyle changes and taking action to improve their health.

Quit smoking – Smoking is an addiction and quitting may be difficulty, but with help and a plan, it may become easier. Within one year of quitting, your risk of suffering a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half.

Exercise and eat right – diet and exercise are important for a healthy heart. Thirty minutes of daily exercise and seven to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day will put you on the right track.

Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels – High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are major rick factor for heart attack and stroke. Reduce your sodium, saturated and trans fat intake and talk with your doctor about testing your levels. Some women may require medication.

Warning signs of heart attack:

•Chest pain or discomfort

•Pain in the arm, neck, jaw, shoulder or back

•Pain that many feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure

•In women, pain may be more vague

•Nausea

•Sweating

•Difficulty breathing,

•Fear, anxiety or denial

Five warning signs of a stroke:

•Sudden weakness or numbness

•Trouble speaking

•Vision problems

•Severe headache

•Dizziness

If you experience one or more of these warning signs, call 9-1-1- or the emergency response number in your area immediately. Do not delay.

For more information go to: www.heartandstroke.ca

Risk factors

Nine out of 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. But the good news is that 80 per cent of early/premature onset of these diseases is preventable. In fact, there are nine risk factors that you can control:

• Smoking

• Physical inactivity

• High blood pressure

• Unhealthy diet

• Being overweight

• High blood cholesterol

• Stress

• Diabetes

• Excessive alcohol consumption

One key risk factor to manage is your weight — especially since a healthy weight can help control other risk factors as well. A modest weight reduction of as little as 5 per cent of body weight can reduce your high blood pressure and total blood cholesterol. Simply weighing yourself is not the only way to determine your health risk. Studies have shown that extra weight around the waistline is more dangerous to the heart than extra weight that is on the hips and thighs. To learn more, visit heartandstroke.ca and search ‘healthy waists’ to learn how to measure your waist circumference and find out your body mass index (BMI).

Here are some risk factors you cannot control, including age, gender, family history, ethnicity and history of stroke or TIA. But by managing your nine modifiable risk factors, you can signficantly reduce your risk.

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