Editor: There are a number of ways to help improve your heart health for heart and stroke month and for life; healthy eating, active living, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and managing other health problems are just a few.
Any or all of these things can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems, or help to manage existing conditions.
There are a number of other health issues that can increase your risk for heart disease or stroke, including high blood pressure. Diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke, particularly if your blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. It can also result in circulation problems caused by damage to the blood vessels.
Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke have many negative health effects that increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Smoking contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in your blood, increases your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.
You may have heard that alcohol – particularly red wine – is good for your heart. But drinking too much of any type of alcohol can increase your blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke.
The relationship between stress and heart disease and stroke isn’t completely clear. However, some people with high levels of stress or prolonged stress may have higher blood cholesterol, increased blood pressure or be more prone to developing atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). If your life is stressful, it can be difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. Instead of being physically active to relieve stress, you may respond by overeating, eating unhealthy foods, consuming too much alcohol or smoking – reactions that can increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
For more information about this and other health related topics, visit ahs.ca or MyHealth.Alberta.ca. Health advice is also available 24/7 by calling Health Link at 811.
Colette Elko works in public health promotion at Alberta Health Services.