# Saturday, March 13, 2010
Although factors such as family history and age cannot be altered, many of the health concerns that can cause cardiovascular disease are controllable. Every Canadian can make the choice to improve their health status, and thus, improve their chances over not becoming ill. In order to lessen the chances of heart disease and/or stroke the following is recommended:
  • Control Blood Pressure: The single most important stroke risk factor that is controllable; a 10 point drop in blood pressure equals a 40% less chance of having a stroke.
  • Quitting Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of stroke as much as 2 to 3 times. Quitting can diminish this risk within the first year of cessation; after 5 years of successful abstinence from smoking the risk is diminished to a person that has never smoked before. For non-smokers, it is essential to avoid second- hand smoke which can double the risk of cardiac disease/stroke.
  • Control Cholesterol: The link between high levels of bad cholesterol, LDL and heart disease are stronger than the connection between bad cholesterol levels and stroke. LDL, however, causes hardening of the arteries, which in turn increases the risk of stroke. Keeping cholesterol in a healthy range will usually require being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, as well as taking any medications prescribed.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can be a major factor in reducing the risk of stroke. The right type and amount of exercise can often cut the possibility of having a stroke by half. As well, exercise can lead to other healthy changes.
  • Getting and Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Excessive body weight definitely raises the risk of having a stroke. Healthy eating, along with regular physical exercise, is essential for cardiovascular health. A properly balanced nutritious diet helps to lower body weight and the size of the waist/ The Body Mass Index (BMI) level is good indicator of whether or not the ideal body weight has been reached. High BMI levels for women are to be considered at a high risk of stroke; high BMI coupled with a large waist in males is considered particularly high risk.
  • Normal Blood Sugar Levels: Almost 20% of people who have had a stroke are diabetic. In turn, diabetics have a higher risk of stroke due to that over time; high levels of blood sugar can damage the blood vessels that lead to the brain. Diabetics must manage their disease with extreme care in order to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Control Atrial Fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that can increase the chance of the formation of blood clots, which can lead to a stroke. It is important to take the medication that is prescribed for this condition.
This and the past 2 blogs have dealt with cardiovascular disease and stroke. As with most other health conditions, a healthy diet and lifestyle is absolutely essential for optimal health. Please remember to notify your health (and life) insurance broker if and when your health status is upgraded due to a healthier lifestyle; you may be entitled to lower insurance premiums.

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