The threat of heart disease and stroke is more urgent than ever with an aging population and rising rates of obesity and diabetes.
Our company’s mission is to help Canadians Eat Better, Feel Better and Do Better. We want to use our skills, experience and passion to help Canadians feel better. Did you know that 8 out of 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke are preventable with a healthy lifestyle? That’s right. 80% of heart conditions are preventable!
We have included below resources and services offered by our pharmacists that will help you keep your heart healthy! Read on for more helpful information in maintaining your heart health.
How to Maintain a Healthy Heart
Unfortunately there is no magic bullet or wonder drug that will prevent cardiovascular disease. There are, however, some lifestyle habits that you can adopt to dramatically decrease your chances of developing it. These habits are:
• Eat a balanced diet
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Exercise regularly
• Do not smoke
• Drink moderately, if at all
Researchers at Harvard University studied 42,847 men between the ages of 40 and 75. At the beginning of the study, none of the men had heart disease; however, 16 years later 2,183 of them had either suffered from heart attacks or had died from heart disease. The scientists believe that 62% of these heart attacks and deaths could have been prevented if the men had adopted healthy lifestyle habits. Changing even just a single bad habit lowered the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease. More impressive yet, those who adopted all five habits were the least likely to suffer from a heart-related problem. If you have any questions about how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle or managing your blood pressure or cholesterol, your FreshCo Pharmacist will be happy to answer them.
Living with High Blood Pressure
Nearly a quarter of Canadian adults have been diagnosed with hypertension. Many more may have it and don’t know it, because the condition produces no symptoms. Whether your blood pressure is high or low – You need to know! The only way to be sure if your blood pressure is within the normal range is to test it. FreshCo pharmacies have blood pressure kiosks so you can take your blood pressure whenever you are at one of our locations. The best method to find your typical blood pressure is to average measurements taken over a number of visits. We supply Blood Pressure Check Cards so you can record your readings and review them with your health care professional.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends these simple steps for heart health:
• Maintain a healthy body weight
• Eat a healthy, well-balanced, diet that is low in fat
• Reduce the amount of salt you consume
• Check with your doctor to see if you should eat foods rich in potassium (such as bananas, cantaloupes, grapefruits, oranges, and tomato or prune juice)
• Participate in regular physical activity ( Check with your doctor first)
• Limit your alcohol intake
• Take time to relax (Stress can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, and eating junk food)
If your doctor recommends blood pressure medication for you, take it exactly as prescribed. If you have any questions about high blood pressure or if there is anything you don’t understand about your medications, stop by the pharmacy and ask your FreshCo Pharmacist.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important step in safeguarding your heart health. But that’s a lot easier said than done, leading many people to try one fad diet or another. There are strategies to managing healthy weight.
• Start every day with a healthy breakfast
• Aim for 5 to 10 servings a day of vegetables and fruits, as recommended by Canada’s Food Guide
• Choose whole-grain breads and cereals whenever possible
• Read the nutrition facts table on food labels and use the information to make healthy choices
• Drink lots of water throughout the day
• Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol
• Choose lower fat dairy products (such as skim milk and low-fat yogurt)
• Eat three meals and two snacks a day at regularly spaced intervals
• Stay away from super-sized portions and second helpings
• Avoid “unconscious eating”—nibbling without paying attention to what you eat
• Look for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check™ symbol on food packages
• Try to get 30 to 60 minutes a day of moderate activity (such as taking a brisk walk) most days of the week. It will not only help you control your weight; it will also contribute to your overall health.
If you have any questions about the role of weight control in health management or about weight control products, your FreshCo Pharmacist can answer them.
Heart Health & Vitamins
There have been quite a few studies that have looked at whether vitamins can help protect your heart health. The results have been mixed; some show benefits while others don’t. Some of the strongest evidence for heart benefits focuses on the B vitamins.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) appears to prevent high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls and promote blood clots, and high levels can lead to heart disease.
While B9 is important, don’t forget the other B vitamins—both B6 and B12 also play a role in lowering homocysteine. Another B vitamin—B3 (niacin)—helps increase the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
This being said, don’t assume that if a little is good, a lot is better. Some studies have shown that when it comes to heart health, mega doses of the B vitamins may do more harm than good.
Each person is different, and nutritional needs vary depending on a person’s age, diet, and overall health. It is always best to consult a health professional before starting a vitamin regimen to make sure that what you are planning to take is right for you.
Your FreshCo Pharmacist is always available to answer your questions about vitamins and your health.
Quitting Smoking: Talk to your FreshCo Pharmacist for help to quit smoking. You can find a FreshCo in your area here.
Physical Activity: Public Health Agency of Canada
Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Health Canada
Coping with Stress: Canadian Mental Health Association
Heart Healthly Tools: Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada
Heart Health: Hypertension Canada