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How to Become Heart Smart


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Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death among Canadian men and women, claiming a life every seven minutes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Both are highly preventable. In fact, 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke cases can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices.

February is Heart Month in Canada. The best way to celebrate is taking better care of our hearts. Many risk factors are in our power to control, and we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to practice good heart health.

Healthy lifestyle choices

Nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Prevention is key to changing that percentage. You can significantly lower your risk by making simple healthy lifestyle choices:

  • Eating heart-healthy foods: fruits and vegetables, nuts and foods packed with omega-3s – salmon and tuna are great choices
  • Exercising: Add exercise into your daily routine, even if it’s 15 minutes of light stretching; aim for brisk walks three times weekly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: 60 percent of the Canadian population is overweight and at risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure under control
  • Taking your prescribed medications
  • Getting an annual check-up with your doctor
  • Managing your stress
  • Quitting smoking

Explore heart-healthy tips on diet, exercise, stress and more on the Heart & Stroke Foundation website.

Here you can do a risk assessment to find out if you are at risk of heart disease or stroke and take steps to reduce your risk. You can also learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke.

Signs of a heart attack

These include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
  • Upper body discomfort

If you experience any of these signs, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.Be-Heart-Smart-blog-post-EN.jpg?mtime=20210216094342#asset:31786

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Women are more vulnerable

Note: Signs can vary and be different for men and women. In fact, nearly 80% of women miss the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. A main reason is women have been understudied and under-researched in this area, making women especially vulnerable to heart disease.

Did you know?

  • A woman dies of heart disease every 17 minutes in Canada.
  • The #1 cause of premature death in women in Canada is heart disease and stroke.
  • 53% of women who experience heart attack symptoms have them go unrecognized.
  • 2/3 of all heart disease and stroke clinical research is based on men.

Heart health support

If you are a member of a Medavie Blue Cross-insured plan, you are covered for ongoing education and support for better heart health. Our Managing Chronic Disease benefit reimburses you for on-on-one counselling and education services with a health coach to help you lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure in check.

Also available under your plan is mobile app, Medavie Mobile, to help you manage your prescription drugs, and My Good Health, an online wellness portal featuring a variety of healthy living tools and resources.

Mark Heart Month by starting your journey to a healthier future — for you and the ones who are close to your heart.