Fewer than one in 10 Canadians is in ideal cardiovascular health, according to the new CANHEART health index developed to measure heart health. The Cardiovascular Health in Ambulatory Care Research Team (CANHEART) health index measures the ideal health behaviours and factors for optimal heart health. More than 400,000 Canadians aged 12 years and older participated in the survey, which asked questions about personal health, health activities and health care services between 2003 and 2011.
According to the CANHEART health index, the six ideal heart health behaviours and factors are:
‘ Smoking: nonsmoker or former smoker who quit more than a year ago in adults; never tried smoking or never smoked a whole cigarette for youth
‘ Overweight/obesity: body mass index less than 25; age- and sex-specific cutoffs for youth
‘ Physical activity: for adults, at least 30 minutes of walking per day; for youth, at least one hour of walking or 20 minutes running/jogging each day
‘ Fruit and vegetable consumption: at least five times a day
‘ Hypertension: no high blood pressure
‘ Diabetes: no diabetes
The results of the survey found 37.3 percent of Canadian adults to be in poor cardiovascular health, while just 9.4 percent were in ideal cardiovascular health.
According to the researchers, increasing trends of obesity, hypertension and diabetes in adults and obesity in youth are causing heart health to decline overall. "Ninety percent of Canadians have at least one heart health risk factor that could be modified by addressing behaviours that can affect cardiac risk," senior author Dr. Jack Tu said in a press release. So even if you currently have one or more risk factors, your fate isn’t sealed.
Here’s what you can do to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease:
1. Lose weight. If you’re overweight or obese, losing just five to 10 percent of your body weight will lower your risk of coronary artery disease.
2. Quit smoking. For good.
3. Get 30 minutes of exercise each day. Even a brisk 30 minute walk will help!
4. Learn to relax.
5. Avoid trans fats