Heart findings 'wake-up call' for Canadians
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | 4:53 AM ET
Canadians seem to be in denial about their couch potato lifestyle and how it is robbing them of high quality years of life, the Heart and Stroke Foundation warns.
Tuesday's report suggests many people are not tackling risk factors that they could manage and control.
"This is a wake-up call for Canadians to say, 'Hey, wait a minute, what we think we're doing and we're actually doing is very different,'" said Dr. Beth Abramson, a cardiologist in Toronto and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Brian Campkin's wake-up call came on a tennis court four years ago. The recreational player, then 46, felt abnormally winded during a warm-up. He started a match but his shortness of breath worsened until the weekend warrior hung up the towel.
After Campkin's wife insisted on a trip to the family doctor, the physician ordered blood work and stress tests. Several weeks later, an angiogram showed three of Campkin's arteries were clogged 100 per cent, 99 per cent and 86 per cent.
"I'm living proof that something can show up that fast," said Campkin, now 50. He would like his experience to serve as a warning for people to pay better attention to their health.
"Three things saved my life. Number one, I listened to my body. Two, guys, this is for you — I listened to my wife when she asked me to go to the doctor. And three, my doctor listened to me."
Campkin didn't have high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, he wasn't overweight and he never smoked. But he wasn't as fit or as careful about his diet as he is now.
Following triple bypass surgery in April 2007, Campkin started taking medications like Lipitor and baby Aspirin as prescribed, gradually improved his fitness level to the point he was able to successfully run a 10K race on the one-year anniversary of the surgery, and returned to the tennis court to play with three competitive leagues.
"I want to walk my three girls down the aisle on their wedding day and that was almost taken away from me," Campkin said of his new goal, referring to his daughters who are now aged 23, 20 and 17.
In the Heart and Stroke report, 90 per cent of Canadians rated themselves as healthy, but the reality is that nine out of 10 have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the group said.
Most people now know what they should be doing, but they are in denial about putting it in to practice when faced with competing demands in their lives, Abramson said.
"If we don't take the time to invest in our health with making the lifestyle change, it will have a long-term consequence that just could be deadly."
February is heart month.
Last month, CBC News' Canada Weighs In poll showed similar results of a disparity between Canadians' health perceptions and realities.
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