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Healthy Habits to Reduce Heart Disease Risks

Stethoscope with heart beat report and doctor analyzing checkup on laptop in health medical laboratory background

The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. Its vital role of pumping blood, which is full of oxygen and nutrients, throughout the body is an essential part of what keeps us alive. And yet, heart disease is a growing concern among Canadians.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is an umbrella term that includes any condition in which the heart and/or blood vessels do not function properly or the heart muscle is damaged. Heart disease includes but is not limited to acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), hypertension (high blood pressure), angina, strokes, heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Canadians. Additionally, there are 1.6 million Canadians who are living with heart disease and a life is taken every 5 minutes due to the disease.

Obesity is an independent risk factor for developing heart disease, meaning that living with obesity increases your risk of developing the disease. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, for every one unit increase in BMI, your risk of heart failure increases by 5 and 7 per cent respectively for men and women.[1]

Heart Disease and Healthy Habits

There are several lifestyle changes that you can make to decrease your risk of developing heart disease such as:

  • Staying active
    • According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it is recommended that adults perform at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week. The activity does not need to be non-stop, but should be done in spurts of at least 10 minutes.[2]
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
    • Weight loss has been proven to reduce the risks associated with heart disease. In fact, weight loss of as little as 10% of your initial body weight for individuals living with overweight or obesity has been shown to decrease the risks associated with heart disease.
  • Reducing your intake of refined carbohydrate (white bread, pasta, rice, etc.) and added sugar
    • Consuming excessive sugar is associated with increased rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • Eating a variety diet with lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, low-fat diary, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and unsaturated oils (like olive or canola oil)
    • Eating a balanced diet helps to maintain energy levels, prevent nutrient deficiencies, and promotes weight maintenance.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
    • Consume no more than 1 drink per day for woman or 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Stop smoking
    • The chemicals found in tobacco harm your blood cells and damage the function and structure of your heart and blood vessels.

Please contact your doctor prior to making any lifestyles if you are already living with heart disease.


Contributor: Ellen Leurer

Registered Dietitian, SmartShape Weight Loss Centre

1 (888) 278-7952 | [email protected]


If you’re living with obesity and would like to reduce your risk of heart disease by almost 50 per cent, weight loss surgery could be the right solution for you. Contact our weight loss experts at SmartShape Weight Loss Centre at 1-888-278-7952 or at [email protected]




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