In BC, the country’s third largest province, the prevalence of ischemic heart disease has remained relatively stable in the last decade, with a rate of 6.9 per cent in 2015/16. The prevalence of heart failure has been increasing slightly, from 1.8 per cent in 2000/01 to 2.0 per cent in 2015/16.
Improved health behaviours, treatment options and management of illness have all contributed to falling mortality rates due to heart disease in BC. Mortality for ischemic heart disease decreased from 20.6 per 1,000 people in 2000/01 to 14.7 per 1,000 people in 2015/16. Mortality for heart failure decreased from 52.3 per 1,000 people to 31.6 per 1,000 people in 2015/16.
Our personal health practices, such as the amount of exercise we get or the foods we eat, profoundly affect our risk for heart disease. Our health behaviours are determined not only by the choices we make, but also by the choices available to us. For example, communities that include parks and walking routes, and policies that limit processed foods in schools help people to make healthier choices.
While the consequences of cardiac diseases can be devastating, the good news is that about 90 per cent of premature heart disease can be prevented. Health behaviours, such as physical activity, diet, tobacco and alcohol use, are considered “modifiable” risk factors because changing these health practices will change people’s risk of heart disease.
Non-modifiable factors, such as genetics (including family history), age, gender and ethnicity also affect people’s risk profile, but these factors cannot be changed.
- quit smoking
- maintain a healthy body weight
- eat a healthy diet
- lower high blood pressure
- properly manage diabetes
- reduce blood cholesterol
- reduce stress