When it comes to improving your vital longevity it is essential that you have a strategy to avoid the complications of atherosclerosis, the underlying disease process that causes heart disease and stroke.
Heart disease and stroke are the second and third leading causes of death behind cancer accounting for approximately 25% of all deaths in Canada. Worse heart disease alone is the number one cause of life years lost.
It is estimated that 50% of middle age men and 33% of middle age women will develop some manifestations of heart disease in their lifetimes.
The INTERHEART study found that the top nine risk factors account for 90% of the related risk:
What is notable is that all of these risk factors are potentially modifiable - in other words 90% of heart disease risk is preventable.
The challenge is that only 1 in 10 Canadians are in ideal heart health and over 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor.
Digging further, smoking and high cholesterol account for almost two thirds of the risk - and their importance is highlighted by correlation of declining smoking rates and improved cholesterol management with decreasing incidence of diagnosed heart disease as well as a decreasing incidence of first heart attack observed over the past 30 years.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that begins at birth and progresses throughout life (fatty streaks, the earliest sign of developing fatty plaques are seen in fetal autopsies).
As a result the single greatest risk factor is age.
The longer you live the more likely you are to develop complications of atherosclerosis.
Here is the paradox of heart disease:
If you want to live a long and heart disease free life, you need to have an active strategy to avoid or manage these risk factors.
The place to start is to assess your risk:
Once you have this information, put the data into one of the cardiovascular risk calculators like Framingham. This will give you the % risk of having a cardiac event in the next 10 years, as well as comparisons between your age/gender average and optimal (all risk factors optimally managed).
The process of doing this will help you get started in taking control of your your health:
If you need help doing this assessment and developing your strategy, we can help.
Our Precision Health Tune Up’s start with a Comprehensive Lifestyle Medical Assessment, where we review your key biomarkers, medical history and lifestyle behaviours known to impact health. Included in this is a full cardiovascular risk assessment, along with recommendations for change, additional investigations and or follow-up.
From the medical assessment, our team can help you implement the recommendations through a TARGET Nutrition Plan, a TARGET Fitness Plan or a Comprehensive Plan encompassing both nutrition and fitness.
Finally a plan is only as good as its implementation, and here our six month digital coaching program (myhealthjourney.ca) and team-based support will help you get started, make the changes and fine tune your strategy.
Other Posts on Heart Disease:
Dr. Brendan Byrne