Have a heart this month
February is Heart & Stroke Month. What better day than Valentine's Day to draw attention to the importance of taking care of our heart health. In 2002 (the last year for which Statistics Canada data is available) cardiovascular disease accounted for 74,626 Canadian deaths. Among all male deaths that year, 32 per cent were due to heart diseases, diseases of the blood vessels and stroke. Among women, the toll was even higher with 34 per cent of all deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, stroke mortality statistics for 2002 rate it as the fourth-leading cause of death in Canada. There are about 40,000-50,000 strokes recorded each year with 16,000 Canadians dying from one. More women now die from strokes than men. Canadians spend a total of three million days in hospital each year following a stroke. Of every 100 people who suffer a stroke 15 per cent die, 10 per cent recover completely, 25 per cent recover with a minor impairment or disability, 40 per cent are left with a moderate to severe impairment, while 10 per cent are so severely disabled they require long-term care. A comparison of 30-year statistics shows some promise. Through medical advancements and public education, the number of male deaths from heart disease and stroke dropped 19 per cent between 1973-2003. Disturbingly, over the same period the mortality rate for women actually increased five per cent. Combining exercise-- 30 minutes of physical activity each day of the week is recommended-- with a nutritional diet while reducing other risk factors such as stress and smoking are proven ways to increase the likelihood of continued heart health. When approached by a door-to-door representative of the Heart & Stroke Foundation this month, donate what you can. Donations may also be made online at www.heartandstroke.ca. This Valentine's Day, be sure to have a heart and give a loved one the gift of information that may help prevent theirs from breaking.