Keeping Canadians healthy

AG highlights how the Canadian Minister for Health is committed to preventing chronic diseases and how it supported World Health Day…

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD’s) are one of the biggest causes of death globally. In 2012 alone an estimated 17.5 million people died from CVD’s, which represents 31% of all global deaths. CVD’s are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, which include: coronary heart disease; cerebrovascular disease; congenital heart disease; rheumatic heart disease; deep vein thrombosis; and peripheral arterial disease.

In Canada alone, each year 1.4 million people are diagnosed with heart disease. It is believed that 9 out of 10 Canadians over the age of 20 are said to have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Due to this the Minister for Health, Jane Philpott is taking action. In February’s Ministerial Message she outlines steps that can be taken in order to prevent these killer diseases.

“As Minister of Health, I would like to take this opportunity to help raise awareness of the importance of heart health and cardiovascular disease prevention. “Each year more than 1.4 million Canadians are diagnosed with heart disease. As a family physician, I saw countless patients who were living with chronic diseases that may have been preventable with a few lifestyle changes. We can all reduce our risk by eating healthy foods, being physically active and not smoking.”

With so many Canadians being affected by these diseases on a yearly basis, the Minister believes that through investment in research, new treatments could be discovered and help with the prevention.

“Government programs are supporting partnerships in communities across Canada that promote healthy living and that provide Canadians with information to make healthier choices,” she said.

“In addition, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada has invested in research into heart disease prevention techniques, promising treatments and tackling health inequalities in Canada.

“The government has also partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and others on the Canadian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium – the first large scale focused on making Canadians more aware of how to perform life-saving intervention when someone suffers cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting.”

She went on to say, “this Heart Month, I encourage you to think about what can be done within your community, your organisation, or personally to prevent heart disease and stroke. For example, you can start by aiming for 30 minutes of physical activity every day, learning how to cope with stress in a healthy way or teaching your children about heart-healthy habits.”

There are a number of ways to help minimise the risk and prevent heart diseases. Smoking is a big contributing factor as it can block arteries and increase the risk of blood clots. It also reduces oxygen in the blood and increases blood pressure. It is estimated that more than 37,000 Canadians die prematurely each year from tobacco use.

Unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise could also contribute. People who are physically inactive are believed to have twice the risk of having heart disease and a stroke. Add on top of that an unhealthy diet, with some 56% of Canadians eating less than 5 servings of fresh fruit and veg per day. This could put the risk of heart diseases a lot higher.

The Minister also marked World Health Day in April, which celebrates the birth of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. This year the day was dedicated to raising awareness for diabetes, which is on the rise in Canada and around the globe. WHO estimates that 422 million worldwide have the chronic disease, which includes an estimated 2.4 million Canadians.

“The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is preventable,” the Minister said. “The government of Canada is helping understand and address the challenge of diabetes through surveillance activities, diabetes awareness and health prevention programmes.

“The government of Canada supports leading edge research on diabetes. I recently announced funding for a new cross-Canada research network focused on improving the care of Canadians with diabetes and related complications.

“Through the Global Alliance of Chronic Diseases, we are supporting the work of Canadian researchers who are working to improve the prevention and treatment of Type 2 diabetes in low- and middle-income countries.”



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