Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of Ontarians. We believe education and prevention are key parts of this. Check out our latest Health Hint on how to prevent heart disease!
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease refers to when the heart is not properly functioning. The heart is a muscle responsible for pumping blood around the body through a system of arteries and veins (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, n.d.). Some forms of heart disease present themselves at birth (these are known as “congenital heart diseases”), while others develop as we age (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, n.d.).
The risk factors for heart disease can be categorized into three groups:
- Lifestyle: the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has deemed factors such as an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, an unhealthy weight, smoking, stress, and excessive alcohol and drug abuse can all put one at risk for developing heart disease (n.d.).
- Pre-existing conditions: may increase the risk of developing heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and vascular cognitive impairment (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, n.d.).
- Circumstances outside of your control: include sex, age, family and medical history, heritage and personal circumstances (Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, n.d.).
What Can You Do to Prevent Heart Disease?
While it can be unnerving that many of these risk factors are out of our control and cannot be changed, there are still ways we can take care of ourselves to try and best prevent developing heart disease.
Some recommended prevention methods are:
- quitting (or preventing developing) the habit of smoking and using tobacco
- getting daily physical activity, 30-60 mins per day
- eating a healthy diet or fruits, vegetables, beans & legumes, lean meats & fish, whole grains and healthy fats, while avoiding salt, sugar, processed carbs, saturated and trans fats, and alcohol
- maintaining a healthy weight to prevent developing pre-existing conditions that lead to heart disease
- getting good quality sleep
- managing stress in a healthy way
- getting regular health screenings for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes
(Mayo Clinic, 2019).
While heart disease can be stressful to think about and there are factors we cannot control, we can all do our best to keep our hearts healthy and happy by following the prevention methods discussed in this piece.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Written by Faria Raisa Amin
NOTE: This article is intended to provide general health tips based on available research. You should consult with a health care professional for specific medical and dietary instructions that are right for you.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (n.d.). Heart disease.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (n.d.). Heart risk & prevention.
Mayo Clinic. (2019, October 26). Strategies to prevent heart disease.