September 26th, 2013

World Heart Day

In honour of September 29 being World Heart Day, I would like to point out that this is an era in which so many conditions and health problems are vying for your attention – not to mention your dollars, as well –and in that constant barrage of news and press releases about different illnesses, heart disease often seems to get shifted aside or ignored, at least in terms of media attention.

But despite that seeming neglect, heart disease (and strokes) remains the main killer of Canadians, and it deserves more of your attention than it may be getting, mostly because to a very large extent, heart disease is so preventable.

Yes, that involves the same-old, same-old, but it’s never a bad idea to re-state these practical rules: if you watch your weight, eat a healthy diet, don’t smoke, do some exercise, and make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are within normal limits, you significantly reduce your risk of developing serious heart disease.

The trouble is, however, as one recent American study found, only an astoundingly low number of people get it all right: 1 in 1900.

You read that right: only 1 in 1900 American adults (presumably Canadian adults fall into the same boat) have the lowest cardiac risk profile.

We should be doing better, I think, especially for our kids and grandkids – and we can. There’s one other issue I want to address about heart disease.

In the many public talks I give, I’ve often heard a variation of this argument: “Hey, when my time’s done on this earth, I wouldn’t mind dying of a massive heart attack, you know. In fact, that would probably be the best way to go, right? So why should I worry about preventing heart disease, eh?” Well, if you think like that, here are 2 questions that ought to disturb your universe.

First, what if that fatal heart attack happens before it was your time to go? In other words, if you hadn’t developed heart disease, maybe you would’ve lived a lot longer, perhaps even long enough to have every Canadian senator pay their own expenses.

Well, OK, no one is likely to live that long, but you know what I mean.

And second, what if long before you do die of that final heart attack, you first develop heart failure, meaning that your heart gradually (not suddenly) gives out over a number of years so that you spend a very long time in the last years of your life, as so many Canadians are now doing, alas, gradually losing your ability to do those things you now take for granted – shopping, playing with your kids or grandkids, walking a few blocks.

London Drugs knowledgeable Patient Care Pharmacists run annual Heart Health and Nutrition & Your Metabolism Clinics. So speak with your local pharmacist for more info, and do me – and yourself – a favour: try to aim for being one of those 1 in 1900 people, OK?

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