Did you know that February is heart month? Although February is most commonly known for Valentine’s day, it is also an important month for spreading awareness of heart health and what you can do to prevent heart disease. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada. Close to 2.4 million Canadians having been diagnosed with heart disease. Heart disease is a very complex condition. It can consist of several different heart disorders. According to Mayo clinic heart disease includes:

  • Any disease which affects the blood vessels Coronary artery disease)
  • An irregular heartbeat also known as an arrhythmia
  • Diseased heart muscles (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart conditions you may have been born with (congenital heart defects)
  • Diseases which may affect the function of the heart valves

Within these categories there are multiple other common conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), angina (chest pain) and heart failure.

Because of the wide range of conditions which are considered heart disease, there are also many different risk factors. Some risk factors we have no control over and cannot change. However, most of them are related to lifestyle and can be adapted to lessen your risk. Some examples of general risk factors for heart disease are:

  • Family history
  • Unhealthy diet
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor stress management
  • Smoking

There are a variety of ways heart disease can be prevented and/or managed. Some of the easiest and most effective methods come from lifestyle changes you can start making today. Mayo Clinic provides many strategies to help prevent heart disease. Some of these strategies include:

  • Avoiding smoking and the use of other tobacco products
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet. Avoiding foods high in sodium, added sugars, unhealthy fats and highly processed foods
  • Staying active. The recommendations are around 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Managing stress
  • Getting regular screening for related health conditions such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes

In order to help educate the public about the various factors of heart disease, Northern Hearts is proud to be hosting the second annual “Healthy Heart Day” on February 24th, 2024. This day-long event is designed to help educate and support individuals concerned about heart disease in Thunder Bay. It will provide educational presentations and heart healthy programming to assist in adopting healthier lifestyles. The initiative is a partnership between Northern Hearts, and the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre.

For all questions related to heart health, please visit: https://northernhearts.org/ or follow Northern Hearts on Facebook and Instagram (@NorthernHeartsThunderBay)

Submitted by Northern Hearts Program Coordinator, Lana Ryder-Methot.