Majority say they want quality time as they grow old but their actions
don't match their words. This Heart Month, the Foundation urges
Canadians to take action and "Make Health Last"
OTTAWA, Feb. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian baby boomers have big aspirations
for their golden years, but their current lifestyle choices could keep
them from making these dreams a reality. The Heart and Stroke
Foundation's 2013 Report on the Health of Canadians titled Reality Check warns that without immediate action, baby boomers may spend their last
years in sickness, disability and immobility.
Although Canadians are living longer, according to Statistics Canada, on
average, there's a 10-year gap between how long we live, and how long we live in health. This gap is
mainly due to heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions.
A new Heart and Stroke Foundation poll* found that while almost 80 per
cent of Canadian boomers think their doctors would rate them as
healthy, their self-reported lifestyle choices show otherwise.
A huge majority of boomers reported not eating enough vegetables and
fruit (85 per cent), more than 40 per cent are not getting enough
physical activity each week, one in five (21 per cent) smoke, and one
in 10 (11 per cent) are heavy drinkers. While the large majority of
boomers said they feel stressed at least sometimes, almost 30 per cent
flag they are often or always stressed.
Despite these lifestyle habits, more than a quarter of Canadian baby
boomers don't feel concerned about how healthy they will be later in
life. And a shocking three quarters (74 per cent) don't know that they
can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 80 per cent
with lifestyle modifications.
"The lifestyle choices that Canadian boomers are making directly
contribute to living the last 10 years of their lives in sickness. This
should cause boomers a lot of concern," says Heart and Stroke
Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. "The good news is that if
lifestyle changes are made now, many Canadians can considerably reduce
the effects of heart disease and stroke. It is possible for us to take
charge of our heart health, reduce hospitalizations and immobility,
significantly improving the quality of our lives."
Brian Campkin knows first-hand what it feels like to have a close call.
Six years ago, at the age of 46, after feeling terrible shortness of
breath on the tennis court, Brian was diagnosed with blocked arteries
and underwent life-saving triple bypass surgery.
"I was stopped in my tracks. Literally. I had to face the fact that I
wasn't healthy - and that was a shock, but it really shouldn't have
been," says Campkin. "I didn't take care of myself and I was a slave to
some of life's common stressors. I put everything else in my life
before my health. I actually set myself on a path to sickness."
Since then, Brian has made it his mission to turn his life around. "I've
taken control of my health and made a lot of healthy choices like
changing my diet, so I can have the quality life I want in the future.
I've lost 20 pounds and feel better than ever," Campkin adds.
Big Plans, Little Action
Canadian boomers are planning full lives for their later years. The
survey showed 61 per cent feel the quality of the time they spend
living is more important than the length of time. Half of boomers (54
per cent) want to travel and be active around the house, 38 per cent
want to be involved grandparents, 36 per cent want to take up a new
hobby and a quarter (27 per cent) would like to winter somewhere warm
"We typically think teenagers are the ones who live like they're
invincible, but boomers seem to forget their mortality too," says David
Sculthorpe, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canada. "In order to take
full advantage of life and Make Health Last, Canadians need to take action - it's their time to decide if they'll
grow old with vitality, or get old with disease."
"In a lot of cases this is a personal journey for Canadians, but it's
also bigger than that," added Sculthorpe. "The Heart and Stroke
Foundation will to continue to work with governments and health
organizations to ensure that as a country, we enable access to healthy
food, healthy activities and informed healthy decisions."
Nine in 10 Canadians already have at least one risk factor for heart
disease and stroke and nearly four in 10 have three or more risk
factors. Approximately 1.3 million Canadians are currently living with
the effects of heart disease, and 315,000 are living with the effects
of stroke, including increased hospitalization and decreased mobility.
In fact, heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of
hospitalization in Canada, resulting in 1,000 hospital visits each day.
Lifestyle Changes to Make Health Last
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is launching Make Health Last to help motivate and support Canadians to live the lives they want in
their later years. Tips and tools on how to Make Health Last can be
found at makehealthlast.ca.
According to the Foundation, Canadians have the power to Make Health Last and shrink the 10-year gap between how long they live and how long they live with health by addressing five controllable behaviours that can affect heart disease
and stroke risk: physical inactivity, smoking, stress, poor diet and
excessive alcohol consumption. By making lifestyle changes in these
areas, Canadians can change their future and gain health and quality of
life in their later years.
Physical inactivity results in nearly four years of quality life lost
Everything counts, even gardening, housework or dancing with your kids
or grandkids, getting off the bus or subway a stop early, taking the
stairs. The recommended amount is 150 minutes of moderate-
to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, and it can take place
in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Moderate intensity activities include
brisk walking or bike riding. Vigorous intensity may mean jogging or
Eating a poor diet equals nearly three years of quality life lost
By following the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide you can be sure
that you'll meet your daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and
other nutrients, which will reduce the risk of heart disease and
stroke. Here are Healthy Eating Recommendations.
Keep a food diary, eat out less, eat smaller portions, eat more
vegetables and fruit, cut back on sugar-sweetened drinks.
Excessive stress can cost nearly two years or more of quality life
Identify the source of your stress and what is bothering you. Share your
feelings, talk to friends, family or professionals. Be physically
active, take time for yourself and take breaks to get away from it all.
Laugh more and try relaxation techniques. Check out the Heart and
Stroke Foundation's brochure Coping with Stress.
Quitting smoking can add two and a half more years of quality life
Within one year of quitting, the risk of dying from smoking-related
heart disease is cut in half; within 10 years, the risk of dying from
lung cancer is cut in half, and after 15 years, the risk of dying will
be nearly that of a non-smoker.
Tips to quit include considering why you smoke, list your reasons to
quit, put more time between your cigarettes, set a quit date, designate
smoke-free areas or seek help from your physician. Supportive resources
can be found on the Heart and Stroke Foundation's website.
Excessive drinking costs Canadians two years of quality life
If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than two drinks a day,
to a weekly maximum of 10 for women, or three drinks a day, to a weekly
maximum of 15 for men.
If you drink excessively consider your triggers, alternate alcoholic
drinks with water or juice, monitor intake, sip drinks and switch to
non-alcoholic drinks. Click here for information about alcohol consumption guidelines.
More new data supports gap between Canadians' perception of their health
- and reality
A comparison of a recent survey** by Desjardins Insurance, with a sample
of anonymous respondents of similar demographic profiles from the Heart
and Stroke Foundation's online Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment***, found
Canadians may not be as healthy as they think they are. For example:
Sixty per cent of respondents to the Desjardins survey felt that they
had a healthy weight, but the Heart and Stroke Foundation Risk
Assessment data shows that 60 per cent of similar respondents are
actually overweight or obese.
Seventy one per cent of Desjardins survey respondents claimed their diet
is healthy, while only 47 per cent of similar respondents to the Risk
Assessment ate sufficient vegetables and fruit each week.
Sixty per cent of respondents to the Desjardins survey felt they
exercised enough to be healthy, but the Risk Assessment data shows only
50 per cent of similar respondents actually reached recommended
Desjardins Insurance is contributing to the health of Canadians through
a partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, sponsoring the
online Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment™ as well as the <30 Days™ app. These online and mobile tools assist Canadians to understand and
manage their risk for heart disease and stroke.
These two important resources, along with other tools like the
Heart&Stroke Blood Pressure Action Plan™ and the Heart&Stroke Healthy Weight Action Plan™ can help identify risk factors Canadians need to improve, and provide
useful information to help them get there.
"To make death wait, as we asked Canadians to do last year, is not
enough," says Dr. Abramson. " We also need to make health last to have
the lives we want to live."
The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads
in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through
the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of
healthy living and advocacy.
Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it
*The Heart and Stroke Foundation poll was conducted online by Leger
Marketing among 800 Canadian baby boomers (born between 1947 and 1966)
in November 2012. A probability sample of the same size would yield a
margin of error of +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.
**The Desjardins Financial Security survey was conducted online by SOM
Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing from August to September 2012. In
total 2,088 questionnaires were completed by Canadians aged 18 years
***The Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment collected health data of 322,183
Canadian respondents, including 159,423 baby boomers (born between 1947
and 1966), between January 2009 and January 2011.
SOURCE: HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION
For further information:
Heart and Stroke Foundation
(613) 569-4361 x 273