Heart Disease In Canada

Heart Disease In Canada

Heart disease is considered the most prevalent cause of death in the world and is a serious problem plaguing Canadians. According to the most recent data available, approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults above the age of 20 live with ischemic heart disease. This includes approximately 578,000 adults with a history of heart attacks. The condition affects approximately 1 in 4 Canadians, with the prevalence increasing significantly above the age of 70. So why should we be concerned, and what do we need to know?

It’s estimated that approximately 12 adult Canadians with diagnosed heart disease die every hour, making it the second most prevalent cause of death in the country. That death rate is three times higher in adults diagnosed with heart disease, four times higher for adults who have had a heart attack, and 6 times higher for adults over the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with heart failure. 

While the disease affects people from all walks of life, it does impact men and women differently. Men are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack and are newly diagnosed with heart disease approximately 10 years younger than their female counterparts. But this doesn’t mean that women have less to worry about with heart disease. Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite. “Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for women in Canada,” according to Heart & Stroke foundation CEO, Yves Savoie. 

Yet women’s physiology and how it’s impacted by heart disease is still wildly misunderstood, which is part of the problem. Due to the fact that women’s heart attack symptoms present differently than men’s, early signs of an impending heart attack are missed in women 78% of the time. Despite this, two-thirds of all heart disease clinical research focuses on men, adding to the lack of understanding of women’s hearts and how they respond to the disease. 

On first glance, women’s hearts don’t seem that different from men’s. Physiologically speaking, however, there are drastic differences that are poorly researched and understood. These include the size, structure, and functionality of women’s hearts as well as how they’re impacted by factors such as pregnancy, menopause, and hormonal changes. All of this puts women at serious risk every year. 

In Canada, a woman dies from heart disease approximately every 20 minutes. Because the majority of research is done on men, the basis for most clinical guidelines, diagnostic procedures, and therapies are based on male physiology. As a result of this systemic bias, women are more likely to be sent home from the hospital without proper follow-up and are more likely to experience delays in treatment.

Heart disease is complex and involves a wide breadth of conditions, making it difficult to understand every detail of the disease and what to watch out for. As such, it’s important to check your heart health regularly. Stay on top of your blood pressure, and do things that can help protect your heart, such as getting enough exercise on a daily basis, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and minimizing your alcohol intake. See your family doctor if you have any concerns about your heart health and work together to come up with an ideal approach to a heart-healthy lifestyle.      

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