Heart disease continues to be the second leading cause of death for both men and women in Canada. About 2.4 million Canadians over the age of 20 are currently living with diagnosed heart disease.
Heart disease refers to several different types of heart conditions. Coronary artery disease—caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the heart’s arteries—is the most common. Other forms of heart disease include heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia and congenital heart defects.
The symptoms of heart disease can vary, and some people may not even know they have a heart condition until they have a heart attack. Red flags include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, difficulty with speech, heart palpitations and sudden loss of responsiveness.
Take Control of Your Heart Health
There are certain uncontrollable factors that increase your risk of heart disease, including age, sex and family history. However, other factors that increase your risk for heart disease—such as stress, inactivity, obesity, diabetes, smoking and a poor diet—are controllable.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best methods to fight heart disease, so consider incorporating these three kinds of exercise into your routine to improve your heart health:
- Aerobic exercise improves circulation and can help your cardiac output. Try to get at least 30 minutes a day of heart-pumping moderate activity—like brisk walking, dancing or cycling—at least five days a week.
- Resistance training with weights, resistance bands or body weight at least two nonconsecutive days per week can help create leaner muscle mass. When paired with aerobic activity, you can raise your good cholesterol levels and lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Flexibility workouts, like stretching and balance, are critical for musculoskeletal health. It’s important to stay flexible and joint pain-free so you can maintain your regular aerobic and resistance workouts.
Keep in mind that it’s the overall pattern of your life choices that determines your heart health. Contact your doctor to find out your risk for heart disease, or for more information.