Wed February 6, 2013
This year, thousands of Nova Scotians will fall victim to one of Canada’s leading health threats– heart disease. Every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke.
The good news is heart disease is preventable and manageable. Many heart attacks become fatal when warning signs are brushed off as minor irritations. For example, common symptoms of heart attacks include chest pain, a burning sensation in the chest and shortness of breath. These are common symptoms for several conditions, and are easily mistaken for heartburn or stress.
There is no sure way to stop yourself from having a heart attack, but you can reduce your risk factors. Doctors in Nova Scotia encourage you to keep your heart healthy by not smoking, reducing your salt intake, cutting down on saturated and trans fats and eating more fruits and vegetables. These changes can help lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It’s also important to properly manage your weight, stress levels, diabetes and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
It is also extremely important to be physically active. You can give your heart exercise in several different ways. Whether you enjoy going to the gym or going for walks in your neighbourhood, exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Small changes in your day-to-day life such as parking on the far side of the parking lot, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, decreasing sitting time, or walking a few extra laps around the grocery store can make a huge difference in the long-run. Remember, every little bit helps.
Visit your family doctor to assess your risk for heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can help get you started on the path to a healthy heart. To learn more about heart disease, visit www.heartandstroke.ns.ca.
John Finley, MDCM, FRCPC