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February is Heart Month

Did you know that cardiovascular disease – heart disease, blood vessel disease and stroke – is the number one cause of death for Canadians? What steps are you taking to keep your heart, brain and mind healthy?
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According the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart conditions, stroke or vascular cognitive impairment. Research shows that vascular conditions – heart conditions, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment, such as dementia – are inextricably connected. If something happens to one part of the vascular system, the other parts are affected.

Some risk factors like age, gender, genetics/family history and ethnicity are non-modifiable and cannot be changed. The good news is that there are a number of risk factors that we can influence by adopting healthy practices. Prevention is more important than ever; if you prevent one vascular condition, you help to prevent others!

Making healthy lifestyle choices

We have the power to control many risk factors for heart disease and stroke. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, many resources are available to help you along the way.

Start by taking this self-assessment from the Heart & Stroke Foundation for a personalized report that will show you what risk factors are in your control – and what to do about them. Some general health tips include:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes at least five vegetables and fruits a day
  • Be physically active
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Properly manage diabetes
  • Reduce blood cholesterol
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Be smoke-free
  • Reduce stress

PHSA’s on the pulse of cardiac care in BC

PHSA plays a key role in ensuring British Columbians have access to expert, timely and equitable cardiac care. A number of PHSA programs and services work together with BC’s regional health authorities to provide oversight, coordination, care, support, education and awareness to heart patients and their families, medical professionals, students and other stakeholders throughout the province.

Cardiac Services BC works to ensure all British Columbians have access to the best possible cardiac care by working with the health authorities to improve the way cardiac services are managed and accessed throughout the province. It also ensures quality access and sustainability within BC's cardiac care system and promotes knowledge translation and system transformation. In 2017/18 in BC, more than 3,800 cardiac surgeries were performed, 1,145 patients received implantable cardio defibrillators (ICD) and there were 20,481 cath lab procedures.

BC Transplant manages BC’s organ donor registry and is responsible for all transplantation activity in the province. Its overall goals are to increase organ donation; reduce the number of patients on the transplant waitlist; and improve care delivery to patients and donor families. As of today, 324 heart transplant recipients receive post-transplant care in BC. The youngest heart transplant recipient in BC was 26 days old, and the oldest recipient was 72 years old. The longest living BC heart transplant recipient received his transplant 30 years ago. Before 1996, the five-year post-heart transplant survival rate was 65 per cent. Today, it is more than 80 per cent.

The Heart Centre at BC Children’s Hospital provides expert care to care to children living with congenital and acquired heart disease. A multi-disciplinary team of experts work together to provide exemplary services spanning from antenatal diagnosis to early adulthood care. The centre also plays an active role in educating and training student nurses, allied health professionals and physicians.

BC Women's Hospital's Women's Heart Health Clinic provides comprehensive care for women with heart disease, and those at risk of developing heart disease. An interdisciplinary team provides two programs - one at BC Women's for preventative care for at-risk women and the other at Vancouver General Hospital for therapy and diagnoses.  Services include: heart disease screening, diagnosis, and treatment; perinatal diagnosis/management; risk assessment and management; lifestyle adjustment and coaching; counselling; and cardiology consultation.

In 2017, BC Emergency Health Services paramedics responded to 7,101 suspected cardiac arrests. Without immediate help, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest suffers brain damage within three minutes. 

After 12 minutes, survival is unlikely. Evidence shows that when cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED) are used together in the first few minutes during a sudden cardiac arrest, survival rates can be doubled. 

Since 2005, through its high school CPR & defibrillator program, BCEHS has been working with the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation to bring CPR and defibrillator education to secondary schools throughout the province. In January of 2018, BCEHS launched the free PulsePoint application, which connects smartphone users with the BCEHS emergency dispatch system. When a sudden cardiac arrest is reported at a public location through 9-1-1, dispatchers can send the location to people with mobile devices located within short walking distance. A user with training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can then quickly go to the patient and begin CPR while paramedics are en route.

For resources to help you keep your heart healthy now and in the future, visit: Cardiac Services BC, Heart & Stroke Foundation, or the Public Health Agency of Canada: Heart Health.
Cardiac Services BC; heart conditions; Health
SOURCE: February is Heart Month ( )
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