This Heart Month, don't let your heart miss a beat, says Desjardins Insurance

Desjardins, Heart&Stroke bridge heart health gap with informative assessment tool 

TORONTO, Feb. 14, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadians are underestimating their heart health risks, indicates a comparison study of Desjardins Insurance's health survey and data collected by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The results show that people generally evaluate their health positively when responding to non-specific questions about their lifestyle, but responses to more specific questions demonstrates that their behaviours may not be as healthy as they believe.

An online survey of over 2,000 Canadians commissioned by Desjardins Insurance asked respondents how much they agreed with general statements such as "You have a healthy body weight," "You usually get enough exercise to be healthy," and "Your alcohol consumption is not high enough to negatively impact your health." The results were compared to those from a sample of anonymous and consented respondents to an online tool with similar profiles (in terms of age, sex, education, income and region) to the survey sample.*

The Risk Assessment asks for specific information, including height and weight, and poses questions such as "Are you moderately active at work or at home for at least 30 to 60 minutes, four or more days of the week?" and " Typically, do you have more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day or 14 drinks a week?"

For example, the Desjardins Insurance survey revealed that 60 percent of respondents felt that they had a healthy weight. By contrast, when weight and height data from the similar profile of participants in the Risk Assessment was analyzed, it showed that 60 percent were actually overweight or obese.

There were a number of other major discrepancies between the two sets of data that should raise concerns:

  • While 71 percent of Desjardins Insurance survey respondents claim that their diet is healthy, only 47 percent of the Risk Assessment sample ate sufficient fruits and vegetables each week.
  • Only 11 percent of men in the Desjardins Insurance survey felt that their drinking negatively impacted their health, but 31 percent of men in the Risk Assessment sample drank more than the recommended amount.
  • In the Desjardins Insurance survey, 60 percent of respondents felt they exercised enough to be healthy but that number dropped 10 points when Risk Assessment respondents were asked about their specific exercise habits.

"The results of the comparison were striking," said Marie-Josee Labelle, director of marketing, Individual Insurance and Savings at Desjardins Insurance. "There seems to be a substantial difference between how Canadians view their health and what the experts recommend as a healthy lifestyle."

The discrepancy between the two results supports the latest Heart and Stroke Foundation Report on Canadian's Health, titled Reality Check. "The report alerts baby boomers to new data that shows they think they are living healthier lives than they really are. It urges boomers to address five risk areas - physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol and stress," says David Sculthorpe, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canada.

With Desjardins' help, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is promoting its Risk Assessment tool, which evaluates heart healthy behaviours. When the questionnaire is completed, the tool generates a customized analysis of the respondent's risk factors and provides tips to help reduce them. "It's an incredible tool," says Labelle at Desjardins Insurance. "Since the risk of heart disease and stroke can be reduced by as much as 80 percent through healthy lifestyle choices, making changes can make a big difference to the health of many Canadians."

"February is Heart Month, which is the perfect time to identify your own risk factors and to learn how to change them," says Labelle. "And we are very proud to partner with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to support their tools for Canadians that do exactly that."

To learn more about your risk for heart disease and how to reduce it, visit the Risk Assessment tool.

*This tool, the My Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment™, was created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help people learn more about their risk of heart disease and stroke.

About Desjardins Insurance
Desjardins Insurance has been offering a wide range of life and health insurance and retirement savings products to individuals, groups and businesses for more than a century. As one of Canada's five largest life insurers, they oversee the financial security of over five million Canadians from offices across the country. Desjardins Insurance is part of Desjardins Group, the country's leading cooperative financial group. Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company, a provider of life and health insurance and retirement savings products.

About the survey
SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted this web survey on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security from August 27 to September 5, 2012. In total, 2,088 questionnaires were completed with a sample of Canadian web panellists aged 18 years and over.

About the My Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment™
The Risk Assessment is an online tool developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation which helps Canadians understand and manage their risk of heart disease and stroke by asking them to respond to a series of questions about their lifestyle and behaviours. The data collected is anonymous and consented and no personal data is collected or shared through the tool.

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation
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 happen.


For further information:

Information (for journalists only):
Sarah Twomey, Media Relations Advisor
Desjardins Group
416-926-2700 or 1-877-906-5551, ext. 2015

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