Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – Heart Disease – Assessing Your Risk
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
Are you at high risk for heart disease? Take a moment to consider your lifestyle, family history and general health. You and your healthcare provider can use this information to tackle potential problems and maybe even lower your risk.
Path to Improved Health
The following factors may impact your risk of heart disease.
Men older than 45 years of age and women older than 55 years of age (or who have gone through menopause) are at greater risk for heart disease. Also, the rates of heart attack over the last 20 years have been increasing for women 35 to 54 years of age.
It is important for you to know what diseases and conditions run in your family and to tell your healthcare provider. Talk to your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles about who in your family has had a heart attack, stroke or other serious health problem. With this information, your healthcare provider can recommend the best kinds of screening tests and preventive treatments.
If you don’t know your cholesterol level, ask your healthcare provider if it should be checked. There are good (HDL cholesterol) and bad (LDL cholesterol) types. To reduce and prevent high (bad) cholesterol, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Some people who have high cholesterol levels may also need to take medicine to keep their levels under control.
If your blood pressure is high, there are things you can do to lower it. Try:
- Losing weight.
- Not smoking.
- Cutting down on sodium (salt).
- Cutting down on alcohol.
Many people may also need to take medicine to control their blood pressure.
Quitting is the single best change you can make for your health. Contact your family healthcare provider about how to quit and stay tobacco-free. If you live with a smoker, breathing their smoke can also affect your health. Encourage the smoker to quit.
A healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, beans, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit the amount of processed foods (such as hot dogs), white flour (such as crackers and white bread) and sweet or sugary foods (such as soda and dessert foods) you eat. You may also need to avoid foods that are high in sodium, which can increase blood pressure. Sodium is found in table salt and many prepared foods, especially canned foods.
Although some research suggests alcohol can help protect against heart disease, moderation is the key. Limit how much alcohol you drink. This means limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of 10 for women and 3 drinks a day to a weekly maximum of 15 for men.
If you have questions about making changes to your diet, contact your healthcare provider. They can help you make better choices, or can refer you to a dietitian.
Being overweight puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. A healthy diet with portion control, wise food choices, and regular exercise can help you lose weight gradually and safely, and keep it off. Contact your healthcare provider about the best ways for you to lose weight.
Exercise can help prevent heart disease and many other health problems. You’ll also feel better and help keep your weight under control if you exercise regularly. If you haven’t exercised for a while or have health problems, contact your healthcare provider before you start an exercise program. To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, but any amount is better than none.
Things to Consider
Heart disease can lead to heart attack or stroke. Often there are warning signs of heart disease. These can include elevated “bad” cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. But these warning signs don’t always have symptoms. That is why it is important to work with your healthcare provider assess your risk.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Nova Scotia Toll free 1-800-423-4432
Prince Edward Island: (902) 892-7441
Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation Website at:
Public Health Services of Canada Website