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Lifestyle risk factors


Small, healthy changes in your daily routine can decrease your risk of heart disease.  Making changes is always challenging.  Your healthcare team can help you figure out what risk factors you should focus on first and set goals that you can reach.

Don’t try to change yourself overnight.  Start with something that is relatively easy and build on your successes.

Unhealthy Weight

If you are struggling with your weight, you are not alone. Over 60% of Canadian adults are either overweight or obese.  Being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease.  In fact, obesity doubles your chance of heart disease.

By achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and waist, you can significantly reduce your risk.  A healthy weight can also help control other conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.

Learn how to assess your weight and how to reach a healthy weight.

Unhealthy Diet

The foods you eat affect your health. Small healthy changes in your daily routine can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Learn more about how to eat healthy. 

Not enough exercise

People who are NOT active have double the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as increased risk of diabetes, cancer and dementia.  Being active helps your heart, brain, muscles, bones and mood.

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your heart health. Learn more about getting active.

If you already have heart disease, regular activity is one of the best ways to make a good recovery.  This aerobic and resistance exercise plan, complete with “how to” pictures, will help you recover safely.

Smoking (Tobacco Misuse)

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke have many negative health effects that increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.  Smoking (i.e. smoking commercial tobacco) contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in your blood, increases your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.   You might be afraid that quitting will be too hard, but there is lots of help available to you when you are ready.

Stress

Stress is a part of life for just about everyone. Sometimes it is not easy to recognize stress because we are caught up in the flow of life. Although stress happens first in the mind, it has strong effects on the body. People who have high levels of stress or prolonged stress have higher cholesterol or blood pressure.  Learn more about how to manage stress.

If you have a recent heart disease diagnosis, you might find information on emotions and feelings helpful.

Too much alcohol

Heavy drinking and binge drinking are risk factors for high blood pressure, heart disease & stroke. Alcohol may also cause problems by interacting with your medications. Learn more about your risk and the guidelines for moderate drinking.

Birth control and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Medications that contain estrogen – the female hormone – increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and mini-stroke (TIA). Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (usually prescribed for the symptoms of menopause) and many birth control pills contain estrogen.  If you take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, discuss the benefits and risk with your healthcare professional.
Learn more about women’s unique risk factors.