Sharpened focus on prevention strategies would save billions of dollars
in heath costs
VANCOUVER, Oct. 21, 2011 /CNW/ - Health prevention strategies to help
Canadians achieve their optimal health potential could add a decade or
more of healthy years to the average lifespan and save the economy
billions of dollars as a result of reduced cardiovascular disease, says
noted cardiologist Dr. Clyde Yancy.
Dr. Yancy, who will deliver the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Lecture at the opening ceremonies of the Canadian Cardiovascular
Congress in Vancouver this Sunday, will tell delegates that people who
follow seven simple steps to a healthy life can expect to live an
additional 40 to 50 years after the age of 50.
"Achieving these seven simple lifestyle factors gives people a 90 per
cent chance of living to the age of 90 or 100, free of not only heart
disease and stroke but from a number of other chronic illnesses
including cancer," says Dr. Yancy, a professor of medicine and chief of
cardiology at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of
Medicine. He is also the past-president of the American Heart
"By following these steps, we can compress life-threatening disease into
the final stages of life and maintain quality of life for the longest
possible time." He predicts that, if we act now, we can reverse the
tide by 2020.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every year in Canada about
250,000 potential years of life are lost due to heart disease and
stroke, which are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada.
Canadians can achieve optimal health, says Dr. Yancy, by following these
1. GET ACTIVE: Inactivity can shave almost four years off a person's expected lifespan.
People who are physically inactive are twice as likely to be at risk
for heart disease or stroke.
2. KNOW AND CONTROL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS: Almost 40 per cent of Canadian adults have high blood cholesterol, which
can lead to the build up of fatty deposits in your arteries −
increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.
3. FOLLOW A HEALTHY DIET: Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do to improve
your health - yet about half of Canadians don't meet the healthy eating
4. KNOW AND CONTROL BLOOD PRESSURE: High blood pressure − often called a 'silent killer' because it has no
warning signs or symptoms − affects one in five Canadians. By knowing
and controlling your blood pressure, you can cut your risk of stroke by
up to 40 per cent and the risk of heart attack by up to 25 per cent.
5. ACHIEVE AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT: Almost 60 per cent of Canadian adults are either overweight or obese
− major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Being obese can
reduce your life span by almost four years.
6. MANAGE DIABETES: By 2016 an estimated 2.4 million Canadians will live with diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis
(narrowing of the arteries), coronary artery disease, and stroke,
particularly if your blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.
7. BE TOBACCO FREE: More than 37,000 Canadians die prematurely each year due to tobacco use,
and thousands of non-smokers die each year from exposure to second-hand
smoke. As soon as you become smoke-free, your risk of heart disease and
stroke begins to decrease. After 15 years, your risk will be nearly
that of a non-smoker.
A call for focused prevention strategies
While this goal of optimal health has been achieved by fewer than 10 per
cent of the population, "it demonstrates the striking potential that
prevention has if it is broadly embraced," says Dr. Yancy. "We know how
to prevent heart disease and stroke - we now need to build the tools to
empower our citizens to manage their risk and prevent heart disease."
Dr. Yancy calls on governments to invest in steady and focused
prevention strategies. He says that necessary initiatives include a
change in current sodium policies, continued progress in tobacco
control initiatives, increased green space, and health education.
"Healthy living is key to preventing heart disease and stroke," says
Bobbe Wood, president of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
"The Foundation is committed to raising awareness about heart health
and to promoting public policies that facilitate healthy lifestyles and
She says that the Foundation will continue to build on partnerships and
policies that have led to a significant reduction of trans fats in the
Canadian food supply; stronger tobacco control initiatives; healthy
community design; and a continued reduction in the amount of salt in
our food products, which has been achieved in part through Health
Check™, the Foundation's flagship food information program.
Dr. Yancy adds that improved access to health care that focuses on
prevention and control of important risk factors including high blood
pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes is also key.
Raising the alarm over looming costs of treating heart disease
Dr. Yancy will also raise the alarm over the looming cost of treating
heart disease now and in the future.
With predictions that the direct medical cost of treating heart disease
in the U.S. alone could climb to $818 billion in 2030, he says there is
a health and economic imperative for governments and societies around
the world to embrace prevention strategies.
Heart disease and stroke cost the Canadian economy more than $20.9
billion every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages
and decreased productivity.
"The opportunity for prevention is not an unrealistic expectation," says
Dr. Yancy. "Over the past 40 years the rates of heart disease and
stroke have steadily declined." The rate has declined in Canada by 70
per cent since the mid-1950s. In the last decade alone, the rate has
declined by 25 per cent.
Unfortunately, says Dr. Yancy, these benefits may be short-lived if the
burden of risk, specifically obesity and diabetes, continues to grow,
especially in children. "We need to act now."
Canadians can take a personalized My Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment™ to find out how their age, family history, and medical conditions
affect their heart health at heartandstroke.ca/risk.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada Lecturer Dr. Clyde Yancy will
deliver the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada Lecture at the
opening ceremonies of the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC) in
Vancouver this Sunday.
Co-hosted by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and the Heart and
Stroke Foundation of Canada, CCC is Canada's largest scientific
conference, attracting close to 4,000 heart-health professionals from
across the country.
Attendees representing 20 different organizations, including surgeons,
pediatric specialists, cardiologists, nurses, rehab professionals, and
others learn about the latest science and cutting-edge research, and
take it back to their patients. The Congress runs until October 26.
Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the
study authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy
or position. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian
Cardiovascular Society make no representation or warranty as to their
accuracy or reliability.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease
and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of
research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and
SOURCE HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION OF CANADA
For further information:
For more information and/or interviews, contact the
CCC 2011 MEDIA OFFICE AT 778-331-7615 (Oct 23-26)
Congress information and media registration is at www.cardiocongress.org
After October 26, 2011, contact:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
(613) 569-4361 ext 273, firstname.lastname@example.org