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Active Living
Full Listing with story descriptions
A Healthy Balance
Ankle Sprains
Active Kids, Healthy Kids
Active Kids in Winter
Athletic Skin Infections
Children, Nutrition & Exercise
Beat the Heat!
Cold Weather Workouts
Concussions
Core Stability
Cross Country Skiing
Exercise and Disabilities
Exercise and Menstrual Irregularities
Exercise in the Cold
Exercise in the Heat
Exercise is Medicine
Exercise Options
Exercising in Pregnancy
Female Athletes
FITT Prescription
Footwear for Running
From Surviving to Thriving
Flexibility
Gadgets & Gizmos
Get Moving!
Get Motivated
Golf Exercises
Golf Injury Prevention
Head Injuries
Hockey Injuries
Home Gyms
Immunization
Jump Start Weight Loss
Knee Cap Pain
Knee Ligament Injuries
Live Actively
Low Back Pain
Osteoporosis & Exercise
Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Plantar Fasciitis
Prehistoric Workout
Prevention of Sports Injury
Proprioception
Recreational Safety Equipment
Running
Safe Snow Shovelling
Shin Splints
Ski Conditioning
Shoes & Fit
Sore Elbow
Sore Shoulder
Spinal Cord Injuries
Staying Active
Staying Fit in the Cold
Sports Nutrition & Supplements
Strength Training
Swimming Injuries
Teen Sports Injuries
Walking
Water and Exercise
Weight Training
7 Wonders of Walking
Adolescent Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Acne
Adolescent Behaviour Problems
Adolescent Growth & Development
Body Image
Body Piercing
Bullying
Chronic Diseases in Teens
Communications Skills
Concussion in Sport
Cosmetics & Skincare
Dangers of Artificial Tanning
Depression
Depression - Causes
Drug Use
Female Physical Exam
First Period
Internet Safety
Junior High
Mentoring to Quit Smoking
Mononucleosis
Parent-Teen Communication
Parent -Teen Interaction Patterns
Personal Care
Psychological Assessment
School Problems
Self Esteem
Self Esteem & Body Image
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talking About Sex
Taking Chances
Tattoos
Teaching Respect
Teens & Smoking
Teenage Blues
Teen Bedwetting
Teen Drivers
Teen Girls
Teen Health
Teen Immunization
Teen Independence
Teen Rebellion
Teens & Divorce
Teenagers and Sexual Issues
Teens & Exercise
A Woman's Physical
Your First Job
Youth Violence
Childbirth
Full Listing with story descriptions
Advice from the Maternity Clinic
Advice from the Maternity Clinic (Part 2)
Alcohol in Pregnancy
Building a Better Baby
Birthing Etiquette
Birth Plans
Birthing Procedure Trends
Bleeding in Pregnancy
Breastfeeding Benefits
Caesarean Section by Request
Care for the New Mother
Cord Blood Banking
Delaying Motherhood
Blue after Baby or Postpartum Depression
Diabetes in Pregnancy
Eating Well for Pregnancy
Evolving Ideas about Pregnancy and Birth
Exercise in Pregnancy
Flying During Pregnancy
Folic Acid in Pregnancy
High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Getting a latch on breastfeeding
Group B Streptococcus
Induction of Labour
Infections During Pregnancy
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
In-Vitro Fertilization
Low Birth Weight Babies
Medication & Pregnancy
Miscarriage
Managing Your Own Labour
Monitoring Your Labour
Nausea & Vomiting in Pregnancy
Pain Relief in Labour
Prenatal Classes
Preterm Labour
Planning a Pregnancy
Pregnancy Weight
Prenatal Care Providers
Postpartum Repetitive Strain Injuries
RH Disease
Rupture of Membranes Before Labour
Sex During Pregnancy
Skin Changes in Pregnancy
Smoking and Pregnancy
Support During Labour
Travelling While Pregnant
Ultrasound for Fun & Photos
Natural Remedies in Pregnancy
Vaccinations During Pregnancy
Vacuum & Forceps for Delivery
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean
When Baby Comes Home
Childhood
Full Listing with story descriptions
Asthma in Children
Attention Deficit Disorder
Babysitter
Bed Wetting
Chickenpox
Childcare Options
Children's Headaches
Childhood Obesity
Choosing A Babysitter
Circumcision
Colds & Flu
Common Childhood Skin Infections
Croup
Developmental Milestones
Diaper Rash
Daytime Wetting
Introducing Solid Foods
Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
Diarrhea
Discipline
Earache
Eczema
Feeding Your Baby
Feeding Your Toddler
Fever
Head Lice
Hearing
How Children Grow
Hearing Loss
Hearing Issues in Newborns
Heart Murmers
Hip Clicks
Influenza
Iron
Is it an Emergency?
Children and Sports Injuries
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
Learning Disabilities
Leg Problems
Not Just Baby Fat
Orthodontics
Preparing for Lab Tests
Recognizing Learning Disabilities
Red Rashes
RSV-Childhood Respiratory Virus
Safe Summer Fun
School
Scoliosis
Sick Toddler
Sleep Struggles
Sniffles, Fevers, Rashes & Coughs
Sore Throats
Speech Problems
Strep Throat
Toddler Safety
Thumbsucking
Tooth Injuries
Tummyache
Urinary Tract Infections
Vaccinations
Vaccination and Autism
When to go to the Doctor
Whooping Cough
Worried Sick
Yeast Infections in Children
Chronic Pain
Full Listing with story descriptions
Introduction
Managing Your Pain
Movement Matters
Moving Forward
Nutrition
Opioids
Pacing
Pain Medications
Prevention
Returning to Work
Understanding and Goal Setting
When Pain Doesn't End
Dental Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby Teeth
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Children's Dental Injuries
Choosing a Dentist
Cosmetic Dentistry
Mouth Guards
Dental Exam
Dental Care Devices
Dental Caries
Dental Care Offshore
Dental Implants
Dental X-Rays
Dentures and Healthy Jaw
Esthetic Dentistry
Fluoride
Fluoride Findings
First Dental Visit
Headaches
A Healthy Mouth
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
Jaw Joint and Muscle Problems
Keeping it Clean
Laser Use in Dentistry
Mouth Protection Equipment
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral Healthcare
Oral health and long term care
Oral Health Care Products
Orthodontics
Orthodontist First Visit
Painless Dentistry
Periodontal Disease
Removable Dentures
Root Canal
Seniors Oral Care
Sensitive Teeth
The Smile You Want
Sore Mouth, Aching Jaw
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Smiling through the Senior Years
Teeth for Life
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Tobacco Risks to Oral Health
Tongue Piercing
Tooth Whitening
Travel Dentistry
Water Fluoridation
Wisdom Teeth
Your Healthy Smile
DIABETES
Full Listing with story descriptions
10,000 Steps
A1C Test
Accurate Blood Glucose Testing
Alchohol and Diabetes
A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
Alternate Site Testing
Artery Health
ASA Therapy
Benefits of Insulin
Benefits of Breakfast
Blood Glucose Medications
Blood Glucose Myths
Blood Glucose Testing
Blood Glucose Testing Tips
Blood Sugar Lows
Blood Glucose Monitors
C-Peptide Testing
Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
Celiac Disease and Diabetes
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Constipation
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Debunking Diabetes Myths
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Celiac
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes Diet
Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
Diabetes Etiquette
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Diabetes and Your Mouth
Diabetes and Your Eyes
Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes Management ABCs
Diabetes Meter Technicians
Diabetes Myths
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out
Drinking and Diabetes
The Discovery of Insulin
Eating Disorders
Easing the Strain of Stress
Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise Excuses
Why Fad Diets Fail
Fats
Fibre
Fill Your Day with Energy
Financial Support for Diabetes
Food Temptation
Foot Care
Footwear and Foot Health
Fruits and Veggies
Gastroparesis
Gestational Diabetes
Get Active
Get Physical
Gift Ideas
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Loads
The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Tips
Guidelines for Diabetes Management
Holiday Party Survival Guide
Health Information on the 'Net
Healthy Happy Holidays
Healthy Beverage Choices
Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
Home Alone and Sick
Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Immunization & Diabetes
Incretins-a Hormone Treatment
Injecting Insulin
Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin
Insulin Handling
Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
Insulin Pumps
Insulin Pen Needles
Insulin Pump Infusion Sets
Insulin Pump Therapy
Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
Islet Cell Transplantation
Insurance
Ketones
Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living with Diagnosis of Diabetes
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
Managing Diabetes
Managing Blood Glucose
Metformin
Nutrition Food Labels
Meal Planning
Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
Metabolic Syndrome
Microalbuminuria
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Over-the-Counter Medications
Oral Health and Diabetes
Osteoporosis and Diabetes
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Pet Diabetes
Planning for Pregnancy
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Preparing for Activity
Putting off Insulin
Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Sensible Snacking
Setting Health Goals
Setting Goals for Physical Activity
Sharps Disposal
Shorter Insulin Needles
Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
Snacking with Diabetes
Sodium
Social Media & Diabetes
Solving the Insurance Puzzle
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supplements
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sweeteners
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Traveling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
Understanding Ketones
Used Sharps
Urinary Incontinence
Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
Vitamin D
Walking
Wise Choices About Natural Medicines
Wonderful Water
Natural Medicines & Diabetes
World Diabetes Day
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
Full Listing with story descriptions
ADHD in Children
Allergic Rhinitis
Allergies
Antibiotic Use
Arthritis
Aspirin Every Day?
Asthma
Back Pain
Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
Birth Control
Bladder Problems
Blood Transfusions
Breaast and Prostate Cancer Screening
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Check-Up
Colon Cancer Screening
Contact Lenses
Contraception
COPD
Cost of Doctor's Visit
Diabetes Management
Diarrhea
Diagnostic Tests
Do I Need a Bone Density Test?
Doctor Visit
Driving Vision
Dizziness
Dealing with Dry Eyes
Does My Sore Knee Require an MRI?
Do I Need an Annual Physical?
Eczema
Electronic Medical Records
Epilepsy
Eye Exam
Family Doctor
Fibromyalgia
Floaters and Flashes
Food Poisoning
5 Ways to Stay Healthy
Gallbladder
Get Active!
Glare
Headaches
Healthcare Teams
Heart Health
Hemorrhoids
Hepatitis C
Human Papilloma Virus
High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure Risks
How to Talk to Your Doctor
Hypothyroidism
Insomnia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Joint Replacement Surgery
Kidney Disease
Lazy Eye Blindness (Amblyopia)
Medical Digital Technology
Migraine
Meningitis
Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Myeloma
Obesity
Opioid Myths
Primary Healthcare Reform
Prostate Problems
Quitting Smoking
Red Eyes
Respiratory Tract Infections
Restore Your Core
Rosacea
Screening Tests
Shingles
Sinusitis
Special Diagnostic Tests
Stopping Stroke
Stroke
Superbugs
Thyroid
Ulcers
Urine Tests
Vaccination Controversies (ask the doctor)
Win by Losing
Urinary Tract Infections
Vision Flickers
First Aid
Full Listing with story descriptions
Bites and Stings
Burns
Choking
Cuts and Scrapes
Eye Injuries
Fainting and Convulsions
First Aid Travel Kit
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Nosebleeds
Poisoning - Household
Emergency Care Guidelines
Sunburn
Growing Older
Full Listing with story descriptions
Advance Care Plans
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Alzheimer Disease
Avoiding Memory Loss
Building Strength
Dementia and Agitation
Cataracts
Can I see Well Enough to Drive?
Cholesterol
Congestive Heart Failure
Coping with Dementia
Constipation
Controlling Medications
C.O.P.D.
Delirium
Dizziness (Vertigo)
Eating Well
Elder Abuse
Exercise Benefits
Erectile Dysfunction
Eye Care
Eyesight and Driving
Feet
Frailty
Fungal Nail Infections
Get Active!
Glaucoma
Grief
Have Health, Will Travel
Health Tips for Seniors
Hearing
Incontinence
Joint Replacement
Lab Tests
Living Longer With Diabetes
Macular Degeneration
Male Menopause (Andropause)
Maintaining Quality of Life as You Age
Memory Loss
New Corneal Treatments
Nutrition for Seniors
Osteoarthritis
Osteoporosis
Parkinson Disease
Problem Gambling
Prostate Health
Retirement
Seniors and Medications
Senior Sexuality
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Screening Tests
Seniors and Driving
Sleeplessness
Skin Structure
Skin Protection
Skin Over 50
Solving Sleep Issues
Staying Healthy
Stroke Prevention
Travel Tips for Snowbirds
Wills and Personal Directives
Modern Living
Full Listing with story descriptions
Abuse
Acupuncture
Adult ADHD
Aging and Memory
Alcohol and Your Health
Anger Management
Antidepressants
Barbecue Basics
Bathtub Safety
Binge Drinking
Bisphenol A
Canada's New Blood System
Caring for a Loved One Dying at Home
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Computer Stress
Coping With Change
Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic Pesticides
Depression
Diabetes Epidemic
Discipline
Diseases from Pets
Downsizing
Dying at Home
Erectile Dysfunction New Treatments
Exotic Travel
Fertility Issues
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
Grief
Harassment
Healing Through Music
Healthy Computing
Humidex
Hypnotherapy
Ice Safety
Indoor Air Quality
Lymphedema
Mature Student
Melamine in Food
Middle Age Health
Mind-Body Connection
Mom Time
Money Matters
Outdoor Workers and Sun Safety
Patient Safety in the Hospital
Pets and Health Benefits
Pet Therapy
Physiotherapy Visit
Planning for End of LIfe
Reproductive Freedom
Safe Drinking Water
Schizophrenia
Smokeless Tobacco
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Soy
Stigma of Mental Illness
Street Drugs
Stressed or Depressed?
Stress in the Workplace
Stress Leave
Swim to Survive
Sunburn
Time Management
Travel Health Protection
Travel Comfort Tips
Travel Immunization
Understanding Change
Unplugging
Whiplash
Wind Chill Index
Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace Health
Nutrition
Full Listing with story descriptions
5 Tips to Manage Weight
10 Ways to Cut Down on Fat
Battle the Bulge
Boost Your Bone Strength
Body Image
Breakfast is Important
Bowel Health
Building Your Bones
Celiac Disease
Challenging the Milk Myth
Diet Reality Check
Drink Up!
Eating Smarter & Cheaper
Energy Drinks
Food Allergies
Food for Active Kids
Fast Food
Food Labels
Giving Up Gluten
Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
Healthy Eating for Seniors
Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
Fruits & Veggies - 5-10 a Day
Fats
Fat Phobias
Fats & Cholesterol
Feeding Your Kids
Fibre
Food Chemistry 101
Food and Mood
Getting Kids to MOVE
Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
Herbal Medicine and Nutrition
New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
Kid's Food
Liquid Candy
Meal Planning with Planned Overs
Mercury Levels in Fish
Night Snacking
Night Shift Eating
Nutrition on the Net
Nutrition Myths Busted
Nutrition Questions Top 5
Nutrition for Menopause
Essential Omega-3
Preventing Cancer Through Nutrition
Picky Eaters
Power of Fruits & Veggies
Portion Control
Power Lunch
PMS and Nutrition
Preparing for Surgery
Probiotics
Reducing High Blood Pressure
Replacement Meals
Sensible Snacking
Sodium
Sodium and Blood Pressure
Sports-Minded Nutrition
Sugar Substitutes
Survive and Thrive
Teen Nutrition
Tips for a SuperDiet
Understanding Food Biotechnology
Vacation Eating
Vitamins D
Vitamins and Minerals
Vegetarian Diet
Weight Loss
Weight Wise Tips
Pharmacy Care
Full Listing with story descriptions
After a Heart Attack
Adverse Drug Reactions
Adult Vaccinations
Allergy Attack
Antibiotic Overuse
New Anticoagulant Medications
Inhaled Asthma medications
Arthritis Medications
Biologics
Biological Response Modifiers
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Blood Thinners
Calcium and Iron Supplements
Changing Role of the Pharmacist
Children's Cold Remedies
Child's Fever
Choosing Sunscreens
Cold Relief
Cold Sores
Constipation and Haemorrhoids
Diuretics and Potassium Supplements
Drug Recalls and Withdrawals
Drug Interactions
Emergency Contraception
Erectile Dysfunction
Expanding Role of Pharmacies
Eye Protection - Sunglasses
Feminine Hygiene
Generic or Name Brand?
Heartburn
Heart Health
Insomnia
Kids and Cold Medications
Medication Questions?
Metabolic Syndrome
Natural Medicines
New Blood Thinners
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Obesity Medication
Over-the-Counter Drugs
Over-the-Counter Drugs and Pregnancy
OTC Pain Relief
Packing Medications for Travel
Pharmaceutical Studies
Preventing Summer Hazards
Research Studies
Quit Smoking
Skin and Cosmeceuticals
Sports & Nutrition Supplements
Sunscreen
Taking Medication
Take as Directed
Using Antibiotics Wisely
Viagra
Vitamin D
Yeast Infections
Your Best Shot
Your Medicine Cupboard
Prevention
Full Listing with story descriptions
Accident Prevention
Alcohol
Antibiotic Resistance
Backpack Pain
Bacteria Fight Back
Bedbugs
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Caffeine
Cell Phones and Driving
Childhood Obesity
Cancer Prevention Tips
Chronic Disease Prevention
Cold and Flu Season
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Distracted Driving
Farm Safety for City Kids
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
The Flu and You
Heading Home for a Visit
Health Tips for Snowbirds
Hearing Loss and Music Players
H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
Household Mould
Infection Control
Injury Prevention
Live Actively!
Insect Repellant
Keys to Preventing Cancer
Kids' Mental Health
Live Actively!
Low Birth Weight
Meningitis
Norovirus
Are Pesticides Safe?
Preventing Burns and Scalds
Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
Respiratory Infections
Seniors and STIs
Should You Immunize?
Sun Safety
Surviving Disaster
Sushi Preparation
Teens, Drugs and Driving
Travel Health Considerations
Travel Medicine 101
Travel Tips
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Water Smarts
Vision Damage
Water Wisdom
West Nile Disease
Whooping Cough
Workplace Alcohol Abuse
Women's Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
Anemia
Approaching Menopause
Birth Control
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast Cancer - Genetic Risks
Breast Cancer Self-Exam
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Changes
Breast Health
Breastfeeding Myths
Cervical Cancer Screening
Contraception
Contraception for Mature Women
Cosmetic Procedures
Cystitis
Endometriosis
Estrogen's Effect on the Brain
Fear of Fracture
Fibroids
Heart Attack
Hirsutism - Unwanted Hair
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The IUD
Menopause - What Men Should Know
Menstrual Bleeding - Abnormal
Menstrual Bleeding - Heavy
Menopause
Menstruation Myths
Menstrual Pain
Third Generation Birth Control Pills
Osteoporosis
Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian Cysts
Oral Contraction (The Pill)
Pap Test
Premenstrual Syndrome
xx
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Urinary Incontinence
Vaginitis
Varicose Veins
Viagra for Women
Yeast Infections
Your Pelvic Floor
Family Health Online / Pharmacy at Safeway
All Words Any Words Phrase
Family Health Magazine - FAMILY MEDICINE

Does Your Heart Measure Up?
Take charge of your heart health

Keeping your heart fit and healthy is basic to enjoying a long, active life. A large part of having a healthy heart is up to you. It is a matter of choice and you can do it!

diagram - the heartYour heart muscle is, in many ways, no different from any other muscle. It too needs good nutrition and exercise to stay in good shape. However, keeping your heart muscle healthy is a little more complicated.

Other factors are involved in your heart’s health. They are called coronary risk factors. This term is used because the arteries that supply blood directly into the heart muscle itself are called coronary arteries (see diagram at right).

One in four Canadians will develop some form of heart disease during their lifetime. The most recent Canadian statistics (Stats Can 2004) show that about 75,000 Canadians had heart attacks that year. Around 19,000 of those died.

However, the good news is that the incidence of heart disease and stroke has significantly reduced over the last several decades. The percentage of Canadians suffering from it has gone down 25 per cent in the last 10 years, 50 per cent in the last 20 years, and 70 per cent in total since 1956.

These numbers show that we are more aware of heart disease and more aggressive about making our lifestyles healthier. Even so, two out of every three Canadians have one or more coronary artery risk factors. As the trends show, you can significantly reduce your risk of having heart disease by minimizing factors that lead to an unhealthy heart.

The information here can help you to understand your risk factors and keep your heart healthy. A tool that can estimate your chances of having heart trouble is below. Using it, you can compare your risk of heart disease to the average risk of a healthy individual your age and gender.

Table 1: Coronary Artery Risk Factors

Moderate Risk High Risk
Increasing Age  
Male  
Family history of heart disease Personal history of heart disease
High blood pressure Very high blood pressure
Total cholesterol of 5.2 to 6.8 mmol/L Total cholesterol over 6.8 mmol/L
LDL cholesterol of 3.4 to 4.1 mmol/L LDL cholesterol over 4.1 mmol/L
HDL cholesterol under 1.0 mmol/L HDL cholesterol under 0.9 mmol/L
Triglycerides over 2.26 mmol/L Triglycerides over 5.65 mmol/L
Fasting blood glucose over 6.3 mmol/L Fasting blood glucose over 6.6 mmol/L
Smoking – pipe or fewer than 10 cigarettes a day Smoking – more than 10 cigarettes a day
Not much exercise No exercise at all
Overweight by 10 to 20 per cent More than 30 per cent overweight
High stress levels High stress levels

Table 1 lists the most important coronary artery risk factors. While you really cannot change some, your actions make a difference with most.

Your age, gender and family history are factors you cannot change. The possibility of heart disease increases with age, especially if you are male or have several blood relatives with heart disease. If you have had certain previous problems with your heart, like angina (chest pain) or an actual heart attack, your risk naturally increases. If you have diabetes, you probably know you are at more risk of damage to your coronary arteries.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

Blood pressure is the force exerted on the walls of the arteries as blood passes through. Blood pressure is measured at its maximum and at its minimum. The maximum is the systolic pressure, when the heart chambers are contracting. The minimum is the diastolic pressure, when the heart chambers relax.

High blood pressure is one factor that you and your doctor can successfully deal with together. High blood pressure is defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mm (Hg) or greater or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm (Hg) or greater. Weight control, good nutrition, sufficient exercise, limiting alcohol and salt, and not smoking go a long way for most of us. All too often, medication is also required to lower blood pressure to an acceptable level.

Over five million Canadians have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, many needlessly suffer from the effects. Studies have shown that, even in North America, high blood pressure is treated adequately only about 16 per cent of the time.

Only about half the population with high blood pressure has it checked frequently enough to know that it is elevated. Not everyone with known high blood pressure gets the right treatment. Not all of those getting the right medication take it faithfully enough for it to help.

Persistent, uncontrolled high blood pressure is very hard on the walls of arteries. It can significantly reduce the amount of blood pumped through them to your organs. Lowering your blood pressure protects other important arteries like those to your kidneys and your brain.

Get your blood pressure checked periodically. This can be done at most local pharmacies and at some fire stations. If your reading is high, visit your doctor. Some people become nervous in the doctor’s office. If this is true for you, it may be more reliable to check your blood pressure with your own equipment at home.

Cholesterol and triglycerides

Your body uses substances known as lipids to produce healthy cell membranes, nerves and certain hormones. Lipids are blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. The body coats these fats with protein so they can be carried in the blood. Fats linked to proteins are called lipoproteins.

However, lipoproteins have a down side. Higher levels of certain types increase the risk to the health of your heart. Doctors commonly measure cholesterol and triglycerides to estimate the risk from fats in your blood stream. Your doctor may also want to know your levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins), VLDL (very low density lipoproteins), and HDL (high density lipoproteins).

Some people call LDL ‘bad cholesterol’ and HDL ‘good cholesterol.’ High LDL levels contribute to hardening of the arteries. This is less likely to happen if you have high HDL levels.

Your blood cholesterol level is one risk factor you can usually reduce. You can lower your blood cholesterol levels by reducing to the ideal body weight and having less fat in your diet.

If this does not improve the situation, your doctor may recommend you take medication to lower your cholesterol. This is most likely if your total cholesterol is over 7.0 mmol/L or your LDL remains over 4.9 mmol/L. Medication is usually recommended for people with less severe elevations of cholesterol who have already had coronary artery problems.

Triglycerides are carried in very low density lipoproteins. They are also associated with risk of coronary heart disease. Changing your lifestyle with exercise, weight control and diet care will often deal with moderately elevated levels of triglycerides. Your doctor may suggest medication if your triglyceride levels are over 5.0 mmol/L. Again, medication may be considered for those with milder elevations who have had previous coronary problems.

Fasting blood glucose

Another risk factor is fasting blood glucose. This blood test is often used to predict the likelihood of diabetes. Diabetes seriously increases the risk of coronary artery disease. It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of people with diabetes will die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

Smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor. It causes one in every five deaths due to heart disease. In spite of this statistic, every day more young Canadians become smokers. The U.S. Surgeon General has called smoking “the most important of the known modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease.” The risk of death from coronary heart disease increases up to 30 per cent among non-smokers exposed to smoke at home or at work. Smokers are more likely to die from their first heart attack than are non-smokers.

Physical inactivity is far more harmful to health than any risk coming from strenuous exercise. The risk of heart disease from an inactive lifestyle is only slightly lower than the risk associated with smoking. Anyone deciding to exercise should discuss their plans with their family doctor.

Exercise

Studies have shown that as many as 60 per cent of adults do not get the recommended amount of physical activity. Regular aerobic exercise can help control abnormal cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure and obesity. HDL levels can be improved by regular physical activity.

Physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be effective. Even moderate exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, as long as it is carried out for at least 30 minutes, three to four times per week. Such activities as pleasure walking, tennis, dancing and a variety of home exercise can be very beneficial.

Obesity

Almost half of all Canadians are overweight. Those who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease even if they have no other risk factors. Obesity (being 20 to 30 per cent over ideal body weight) can increase your triglycerides, lower HDL and increase VLDL cholesterol. This is the wrong direction for all of these factors. Losing just seven to 11 pounds (three to five kilograms) can reduce your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

Get Stress Fit

  • Give yourself a break.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Talk it out.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Take a course for fun and self-improvement.
  • Relax with a good book, music or movie.
  • Exercise.
  • Set priorities.
  • Schedule your time.
  • Find alternative sources of satisfaction.
  • Be aware of the causes of stress.
  • Take action.

Stress

The final risk factor to discuss is stress. The American Heart Association says that stress is a contributing factor to heart disease. Some 80 per cent of people who suffer heart attacks believe stress contributed to their condition. Whether the problem is stress itself, or what it leads us to do, is still an issue of debate. People may increase their risks by turning to eating, smoking or drinking when their stress levels rise.

Women and the risk of heart disease

If you are a woman, you probably do not worry that much about having heart disease. You may worry more about getting breast cancer. The fact is heart disease claims five times as many women as breast cancer. Although women develop heart problems seven to eight years later in life than men, they are less likely to survive their first heart attack.

Estrogen’s effects protect women until menopause. After age 65, women’s heart attack risk becomes almost equal to that of men. Hormone replacement after menopause can maintain some of a woman’s protection from coronary heart disease.

Most risk factors for heart disease are the same for women and men. A few differences do exist. Smoking doubles the risk of heart attack for both women and men. However, women who smoke and have also used oral contraceptives are 39 times as likely to have a heart attack as women who have done neither. Women with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease than men who have diabetes. Diabetes doubles the risk of a second heart attack in women, but not in men.

Fortunately, coronary risk factors in women are now receiving more attention from both the medical profession and women themselves. In the past, through lack of education, there was a tendency to downplay or ignore these risks.

Calculating your risk of developing heart disease

The First Heart Attack Risk Test (download pdf here) is a quick assessment tool. It is intended only to provide you with an approximation of your risks. A more accurate assessment of your risk can be found using the Alberta Health Services Heart Attack Risk Calculator (see Internet Resources).

Take the time to determine whether your heart is at low, medium or high risk. If the test results indicate you are at low risk, keep doing all of the things you are doing right. If, on the other hand, the answer is medium or high risk, identify the coronary artery risk factors that apply to you. Lifestyle changes can help you to start reducing those risks. However, you may find you want more advice regarding your situation. Your family doctor will be able to put your risk factors into perspective and give more information if you need it. A list of excellent, easy to obtain resources can be found below.

The First Heart Attack Risk Test
Remember, good heart health is an achievable goal. It is up to you – take charge and enjoy a longer, healthier life!

Resources

Books:

The following may be available through your local library:
  • Seven Steps to Stop a Heart Attack
    Written by Dr. Bob Arnot
    Published by Simon & Schuster, 2005 ISBN 0-7432-2557-0
  • Strong Women, Strong Hearts - Proven Strategies to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Now
    Written by Miriam E. Nelson and Alice H. Lichtenstein
    Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005 ISBN 0-399-15287-3
  • American Medical Association Guide to Preventing and Treating Heart Disease
    Written by Martin S. Lipsky, and others
    Published by John Wiley & Sons, 2008 ISBN: 978-0-471-75024-6

Internet:

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada: ww2.heartandstroke.ca/splash
Family Doctor: www.familydoctor.org – search ‘heart disease’
Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com – search ‘heart disease’
Heart Attack Risk Calculator, Alberta Health Services:
www.calgaryhealthregion.ca/healthinfo
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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
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