How Good is Your Heart Health?

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Canadians Need Better Heart HealthCanadians need to be much more vigilant about their own health status especially regarding heart health, a new report suggests.

According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Journal, Canadians’ lifestyle habits now foster conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

The study looked at data from 464,000 participants from 2003-2011 and applied a tool known as the CANHEART to assess risk factors for heart disease. The information from this study indicated that less than one in 10 Canadians had what could be considered ideal cardiovascular health. The study also indicated that approximately one in five Canadians aged from 13-19 were considered to have an ideal level of cardiovascular health.

“A large proportion of Canadians are in poor cardiovascular health, and the overall trend has not changed in the past decade,” said Dr. J. Tu, the study author. “There is an urgent need to improve the heart health of Canadians.”

The CANHEART tool is used to apply a numerical score from zero to six for each variable. The lower the score, the worse the heart health outcome:

  • Smoking
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Hypertension/blood pressure
  • Diabetes

This tool produced some very interesting trends, to say the least. The researchers reported that although smoking prevalence seemed to be reduced, fruit and vegetable consumption and levels of physical activity showed an increase.

However, higher levels of obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes were also reported. This is particularly troubling given the fact that these conditions are the hallmarks of the metabolic syndrome which is sweeping across North America like an unchallenged epidemic. This is yet another study which has confirmed this rather sad and worrisome trend in public health.

The study also indicated that generally, women were more than two times as likely to enjoy ideal cardiovascular health as did men. The other revealing trend that this study indicated was that the people who lived in the western parts of Canada like British Columbia had better heart health scores contrasted to the people living in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador who had the worst heart health.

This information clearly shows that, like our American friends to the south, we Canadians need to improve our lifestyle and change this very disturbing trend in Canadian public health.

Generally speaking, too many Canadians are either overweight or obese and this lays the groundwork for metabolic syndrome to cause an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“Heart health not ‘ideal’ for 90% of Canadian adults, tool shows,” CBC News web site, December 23, 2013;, last accessed Dec. 24, 2013.
MacLagan, L., etal.,“The CANHEART health index: a tool for monitoring the cardiovascular health of the Canadian population,”CMAJ. December 23, 2013.

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Dr. K.J. McLaughlin, BPE, CSCS, MASc. DC

About the Author, Browse K.J.'s Articles

Dr. K.J.McLaughlin is a chiropractor with 27 years of clinical experience. In addition, he has degrees in physical education, nutrition and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with an interest in anti-aging medicine. He has also spent time studying health promotion and the effect that health education has upon health outcomes. Dr. McLaughlin has a diverse professional background which has involved clinical management, teaching, health promotion and health coaching and brings a unique passion to his work. Email: