Heart disease refers to what is really a group of conditions that affect the structure and functions of the heart and has many root causes. For most types, maintaining a healthy lifestyle (healthy eating, physical activity, avoiding tobacco misuse) is a key part of preventing these conditions.
What is heart disease?
Your heart is a muscle that gets energy from blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. Having a constant supply of blood keeps your heart working properly. Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions affecting the structure and functions of the heart and has many root causes. Coronary artery disease, for example, develops when a combination of fatty materials, calcium and scar tissue (called plaque) builds up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart (coronary arteries). The plaque buildup narrows the arteries and prevents the heart from getting enough blood.
How can I prevent heart disease?
Heart disease is preventable and manageable.
Your best defense is controlling the risk factors that could lead to coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and being overweight.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, there are treatments to help you manage your illness. You can further reduce your risk by considering these heart-healthy steps:
- Be smoke-free.
- Be physically active.
- Know and control your blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet that is lower in fat, especially saturated and trans fat.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage your diabetes.
- Limit alcohol use.
- Reduce stress.
- Visit your doctor regularly and follow your doctor’s advice.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
One life is taken every seven minutes
For more than 60 years, Heart & Stroke has been dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Our work has saved thousands of lives and improved the lives of millions of others. You’ll probably run into someone today who is alive and well thanks to the countless Canadians who have supported our cause with their time and donations.
It could be the young boy you pass on the street whose heart defect was successfully mended thanks to life-saving research. Or the woman at the coffee shop whose stroke was treated with a clot-busting drug. Or the father whose hockey teammates saved his life with CPR.
Heart disease is a general term that means the heart is not working properly. Some forms of heart disease are present at birth (congenital heart disease), while others develop as we age. Many forms of heart disease can be prevented by living an active, healthy lifestyle.
- Prevention is key.
Learn more about how to live a healthier lifestyle. You’ll find help here.
- Join us to make a difference.
Get outside, have some fun and help us make heart disease and stroke a thing of the past.