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The Beat Goes On: As Heart Month Wraps Up, Here’s Three Tips To Keep Yours Healthy
February 28, 2013
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It's the last day of the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Heart Month - a perfect time to talk about heart disease in this country.

Ever wonder how many Canadians suffer from cardiac arrest?

Here's your answer: "Up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada - that is about one every 12 minutes," said David Sculthorpe, CEO of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.

It can happen to people of all ages and various degrees of fitness. It usually happens without warning and all too often, cardiac arrest can be deadly.

"On average, only five per cent of people who experience a cardiac arrest survive," Sculthorpe said.

However, many of these victims can be saved if people quickly call 9-1-1, start CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED), within minutes of someone collapsing.

The key, the Foundation says, is to make more AEDs available in public areas so they become as common as fire extinguishers.

In the spring of 2011, the federal government announced a $10 million plan to put AED's in more public facilities - including hockey arenas and community recreation centres across the country.

Last week, the Prime Minister confirmed the government's commitment to funding the plan.

That means the Heart & Stroke Foundation can start installing AEDs and training more people in the spring of 2013.

"With increased public access to AEDs and early access to CPR, the lives of thousands of Canadians could be saved every year," Sculthorpe said at the event.

Heart disease affects Canadians from all walks of life. Just ask former NHL-er Brett MacLean. He's only 23 years old, but after suffering a cardiac arrest at a pick-up game last summer, he had to give up playing pro hockey.

Check out his story, as told to CBC Sports, below:

MacLean survived thanks to an available AED and trained staff at the rink where he was playing, and he's now actively campaigning for the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

"The AED saved my life, and it's important for people to be trained," he said. "You never know when you might need it; it could happen to anyone, anywhere."

Cardiac arrests are only one aspect of heart health. All told, heart disease and stroke kill one Canadian every seven minutes, and 90 per cent of people in this country have at least one risk factor, according to the Foundation.

So, what can we do to keep our hearts healthier? Here are a few ways to lower your risk:

1) Know your family history: If your father or brother had a heart attack before the age of 55, or your mother or sister had one before they turned 65, you're at higher risk, so you should take extra care.

2) Maybe try a Mediterranean diet: a recent study conducted at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona found that eating like people in the Mediterranean significantly lowers the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or dying of heart disease.

That means lots of fruits, cooked vegetables and legumes, whole grains, and moderate amounts of wine, nuts, fish, and dairy products.

The results of the study were so clear that researchers actually cut it short for one group. So, if you're looking for a heart-friendly dish, consider some fish with a green salad and lots of olive oil, instead of a burger and fries.

3) Stand up for yourself: A lot of evidence has emerged recently that if sit down all the time, and don't get enough exercise, you increase your risk of developing blood clots on the brain, heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.

So yeah: a desk job is not necessarily the healthiest thing for you. Obviously, exercise is the best thing to do. But simply standing up can also help. Researchers say standing every day for an extra 90 minutes, can significantly lower your chances of developing diabetes, and may help with other health problems.

You can read about the latest research right here. And here's another study you can read about here.


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