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article imageReport shows that Canadians in denial about heart disease risks

By KJ Mullins     Feb 1, 2011 in Health
Canadians may know that they can help prevent heart disease and stroke by reducing risk factors but that knowledge doesn't stop denial threatening their health, according to a new report.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s 2011 Report on Canadians’ Health found that nine out of 10 Canadians take a chance on the quality and length of their lives. Factors like being overweight and physically inactive are being overlooked by a large segment of the population.
Each year there are about 250,000 years of potential life lost by Canadians due to cardiovascular diseases. That time loss isn't due to an unawareness of risk factors. In fact, according to a new Heart and Stroke Foundation poll, nine out of 10 Canadians know that most first-time heart attacks are caused by risk factors that they can control. Eighty-four percent know that nine out of ten adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. Despite knowing this 90 percent of Canadians rate themselves as healthy. Half of the population don't meet the physical activity and eating recommendations. Although 18 percent admit to being obese the reality is that almost a quarter of Canadians are obese.
“Canadians know what to do to live healthier, longer lives. But there’s a huge disconnect between what we think we are doing to address our risk factors and reality,” says Dr. Beth Abramson, cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in a press release.
“The fact is that we’re not managing some of the most common and deadly cardiovascular risk factors as well as we think we are. We Canadians are living with a false sense of security that could be fatal.”
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is working to bring reality back with The My Heart&Stroke Health App. The app gives tailored action plans for healthier living.
Heart and Stroke Foundation director of research, Dr. Marco Di Buono said in a press release, “We recognize that busy people may prefer the convenience of an app.”
While many Canadians rely on their doctors to educate them about their risks, the poll found that many healthcare providers don't discuss risk factors with their patients. While blood pressure tests are common only thirty percent of patients have their waists measured. That low tech measurement is a simple way to know if a person is at an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Making changes that will reduce risk factors 'can take a village.' From having access to affordable fresh vegetables and fruit to stop smoking classes individuals, families, schools, health care providers, communities, businesses, industries and government all have a role in a healthier Canada.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is doing their part by making knowledge more accessible. Free e-tools are easily accessible on the Foundation's web site. A simple phone call (1-888-HSF-INFO ) lets Canadians sign up for healthy lifestyle programs and obtain free health resources.
“Healthcare professionals tend to be focused on urgent or acute healthcare issues in their busy offices,” says Dr. Abramson. “Both patients and physicians have a responsibility to discuss the prevention and management of chronic disease by raising these questions.”
“Knowledge is power,” she says. “Conversations with your healthcare provider who can explain the importance of managing risk factors can empower you to take control of your health. It’s essential to start having those conversations early in life and to have them regularly as you age.”
More about Health, Canadians, Risk factors, Heart attacks, Stroke
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