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Heart attack and stroke: Are you at risk?

There is an urgent crisis in our midst. Across the country, millions of people are at risk of heart attack or stroke due to high cholesterol. You may not think that high cholesterol is a big deal, but consider this: Every seven minutes, someone in Canada dies from heart disease or stroke. In fact, over 60,000 Canadians will suffer their first heart attack this year. One of the critical risk factors? High cholesterol.  

That first heart attack or stroke can be a warning sign that a person’s cholesterol is a problem.  

Are you at risk?  

If you are, you’re not alone; in fact, nearly 40% of Canadians have cholesterol levels that put them at risk of heart disease.  

High cholesterol levels are problematic because they can lead to a buildup of plaque along the inside your arteries. Over time, this plaque accumulates and hardens which ultimately restricts blood flow through the arteries, which increases the risk of a major cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke.  

But there are steps you can take. There are things you can do to reduce your risk of a life changing, or even fatal cardiovascular event.  

Respond to the statements below, and talk to your doctor about your responses. 

Heart Health Self-Assessment

  • I have a family history of high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease. YES / NO
  • I have had a heart attack or stroke. YES / NO
  • I have experienced chest pain – also known as angina. YES / NO
  • I have been diagnosed with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease. YES / NO
  • My waist measures more than 94 centimetres / 37 inches (for men) or 80 centimetres / 31.5 inches (for women). YES / NO
  • I have smoked cigarettes in the past year. YES / NO
  • I exercise fewer than twice per week. YES / NO
  • I could probably stand to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats like avocado. YES / NO
  • I regularly eat fast food and highly-processed foods. YES / NO 

Did you answer “yes” to any of those questions? You may be at risk of heart attack or stroke. But you can take your heart health into your own hands by speaking to your doctor.

There are ways to manage your risk of heart attack or stroke – especially if you have already had one. Speak to your doctor and find out what can be done.

After reading this article, are you more likely to speak to your doctor about your cardiovascular health?