Heart Month is a national campaign that mobilizes Canadians to raise awareness and funds to improve the lives of all Canadians. Keeping your heart healthy can prevent and manage cardiovascular disease.
Heart Anatomy & Function
The human heart, which beats more than 2.5 billion times during a lifetime, is slightly larger than your clenched fist. The heart beats approximately 100,000 times each day and pumps around 7,200 litres of nutrient-rich blood, that travels all the way to our extremities through our arteries, arterioles and capillaries. Oxygen-poor blood is carried back to the heart through veins. The heart and circulatory system makes up our cardiovascular system.
Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
Some factors contributing to cardiovascular disease are genetic, such as age, ethnicity, and family history. Fortunately, there are a number of factors under our control that can play a significant role, including tobacco exposure, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, unhealthy diets, stress, and excessive alcohol intake.
Modifiable Risk Factors
- Hypertension – single biggest risk factor for stroke and plays significant role in myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) – Blood Pressure Information
- Abnormal blood lipid levels – more specifically, high cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, high levels of low-density lipoprotein or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Tobacco use – risk is higher depending on starting age and for women
- Physical inactivity – increases risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%. Obesity is a major risk factor. – Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines
- Type 2 diabetes – Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
- Unhealthy diet – Healthy Eating Guidelines to Prevent Heart Disease
- Stress – Understanding Stress
- Excessive alcohol intake – Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
There are always exceptions to the rules, and someone may not necessarily develop cardiovascular disease if they have the risk factors; however, the more the risk factors, the greater the likelihood. These health ailments can in most cases be prevented by taking action to modify healthy behaviours and lifestyles. Your health-care team can help and should be consulted if you are concerned about your wellbeing. Prevention is key, and it’s always a good time to take care of yourself.
Get involved & take care of your heart by:
- Signing up for a CAMMPUS Information Session and/or getting a free cardiovascular assessment test from the UBC Pharmacists Clinic- Register here
- Informing yourself on heart health by visiting our Virtual Health Fair & Online Assessment
- Visiting www.heartandstroke.ca and learning more about Heart Health & Heart Month fundraising
EFAP Health Coaching
UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell, can help you understand health issues and concerns in addition to helping you make the changes needed to be well.
There are many ways to get help today – all completely confidential. Shepell’s Health Coaches are Registered Nurses and Occupational Health Nurses who offer practical, personalized support for physical health issues which are risk factors of cardiovascular disease:
- Smoking cessation – via EFAP’s Stop Smoking Centre
- Weight management
- Healthy eating – via EFAP Nutrition Support led by Registered Dietitians
- Stress management
- Exercise as a component of a healthy lifestyle
- Health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
Review the services available at the Shepell website and use the icons under Contact Us to book your service anytime, anywhere.