Heart Disease

Recent newspaper headline says that heart and blood vessel disease kills more women than breast cancer. Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be!

We know that heart and blood vessel (cardio-vascular) disease is a number one killer of all adults, irrespective of gender. Over the years, and from time to time, our doctors and our media, remind us about the known risk factors associated with cardio-vascular disease. But how many of us have the ability to remember and recall these risk factors?

Now, if you are one of those Canadians who can remember and recite these risk factors before each meal then you run the risk of being left alone to eat your own breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will be a social outcast!

And if you are a physician, sitting with non-physicians who enjoy extra salt, a blood soaked 20-oz steak cooked in butter, and double size cheesecake with extra whipping cream then you better keep your mouth shut! And you better keep your mouth shut, if you are a non-physician sitting with physicians who smoke and eat just like “normal” human beings!

In any case, how can we change our eating habits if we are to stay healthy? Is it by keeping our mouth shut or by being a social outcast? Before you start your meal, would rather say “grace” or recite the innumerable commandments of healthy eating?

While you are struggling to make up your mind, lets look at recent articles in Canadian Medical Association Journal that say that in order for a person to change his behaviour, he has to rely on his knowledge or have access to information to make sound judgement on what is good for his health. They also believe that monitoring the population’s knowledge of risk factors can help guide public health programs.

Here is a test for you! In the next 60 seconds, name the six risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Now compare yourself with how 23,000 Canadians aged 17 to 74 did in a survey conducted by Canadian Heart Health Research Group between 1986 and 1992.

Overall, the percentage of Canadians who identified the six important risk factors for cardio-vascular disease is: fat in food (60 percent), smoking (52 percent), lack of exercise (41 percent), excess weight (32 percent), elevated cholesterol (27 percent), and high blood pressure (22 percent). So, how did you do? Never mind, must be that mental block!

The researchers found that the behaviour related risk factors – fat consumption, smoking and exercise – were mentioned more often than physiologic ones – high blood pressure and raised cholesterol level. They also found that all segments of the Canadian population are missing some information about the different cardio-vascular risk factors.

Their findings suggest that health promotion campaigns should consider individual differences and include distinct messages for subgroups of the population, at least those defined by age and education level. And not to forget the disadvantaged segments of our population.

Now, can you recall the six important risk factors for cardio-vascular disease?

Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *