According to data gathered by the Public Health Agency of Canada, approximately 2.5 million Canadians over the age of 20 currently live with heart disease, while an estimated 9 in 10 Canadians have at least one precursor for heart disease.
Heart Disease Explained
Heart disease occurs when calcium, fatty material and scar tissue (also known as plaque) builds up in the coronary arteries. These arteries are responsible for supplying the heart with blood and nutrients, as well as supplying the oxygen it needs to pump that blood. However, when these arteries become narrow the heart is unable to get the amount of blood it needs. Over time this build-up can also obstruct the blood vessels, which ultimately results in restricted blood flow.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Common symptoms of heart disease due to restricted blood flow include angina (the medical term used to describe chest pain related to heart disease), fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, confusion, and pain in the legs, arms, or any other area of the body where there is a blocked artery. Heart attacks and stroke can also occur as a result of heart disease. If you notice things like severe chest pain in conjecture with shortness of breath, pain in the shoulders, neck, back, arms or jaw, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, perspiration, weakness or numbness of the face and/or limbs, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, loss of balance, vision problems, or a sudden and severe headache, you should seek medical attention immediately by calling 911. If left unchecked, symptoms of a heart attack and/or stroke can lead to complications, and may also be fatal.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
There are many risk factors associated with the development of heart disease. It can be hereditary, meaning it runs in the family therefore substantially increasing your risk of developing it. Heart disease can also be the result of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, tobacco use, emotional stress, lack of physical activity, lack of exercise, obesity, and diabetes.
How to Prevent Heart Disease
In order to prevent heart disease, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, says patients need to make sure they’re living healthy lifestyles. This means no smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular physical activity.
While a bad habit such as smoking can sometimes be difficult to break, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares tips to help you do that, which can be found by clicking here.
When it comes to healthy eating, you’ll want to avoid foods that are high in fat and consume more foods that are rich in nutrients. For example, more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can find a wide variety of healthy eating tips here, as well as by following Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary, on Instagram, and on Facebook.
Exercise is also not only a great way to reduce your risk of heart disease, but it can also help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as control your blood sugar levels. If you’re someone who isn’t used to getting regular exercise, Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests starting slow – such as going for 30 minute walks.