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Taking your Health to Heart

Heart disease in Canada is a major problem and 9 in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke, which includes smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But we are doing something right! Since 1952, the cardiovascular death rate has declined by more than 75 per cent due to several factors, one of which is prevention efforts. Here are some heart healthy habits to incorporate into your daily routine to keep your hearts pumping and prospering!

- Eat healthy. A diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits (at least 5 servings per day), low in saturated fats, NO trans fats, high in omega 3 oils, high in fibre (25-40 grams per day), and low in salt and sugar is one that will help prevent heart disease.

- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and control blood pressure. It is recommended to engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

- Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure can have almost no symptoms; so monitoring this health parameter is a great way to keep your health in check.

- Don't smoke and limit alcohol use. Cigarette smoking and having more than one alcoholic drink per day if you are a woman and two if you are a man greatly increase your risk for heart disease.

- Prevent excess stress. Chronic stress can raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. Acknowledging your stress levels and practicing positive coping techniques such as mindful mediation or exercise on a daily basis is important.

- Incorporate clinically proven and researched supplements for promoting healthy cardiovascular function such as omega 3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, and garlic extract. Omega 3s reduce blood pressure, triglyceride levels, cholesterol, platelet aggregation, arrhythmia, and arterial plaque formation. In one study of over 11,300 heart attack patients, those who took 1000mg per day of omega 3 fatty acids had a 45% reduction in sudden cardiac death than those who did not. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant and is crucial in highly energetic tissues, especially heart muscle, in creating cellular energy. Although the human body can make CoQ10, this process requires at least 8 vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids, making a deficiency in CoQ10 not uncommon. Supplementing with CoQ10 can raise levels to support healthy heart activity. Garlic has been used for centuries as a culinary herb, as well as for its heart-supporting properties. In people with high blood pressure, garlic can reduce systolic blood pressure by 16 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 9.3 mm Hg compared with placebo. Look for a concentrated enteric-coated odourless garlic supplement that contains the active ingredient- allicin- in stabilized form.

There are many ways you can keep your heart healthy. I hope you will share these tips with your family and friends during Heart Health Month to raise awareness about this deadly but often preventable disease.


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