Those are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada, cutting across all segments of the population. Every year, we see 50,000 new patients diagnosed with heart failure, 70,000 heart attacks, 40,000 cardiac arrests and 50,000 strokes.

Vascular disease isn’t just the underlying cause of heart disease and stroke. It’s also a key factor in other chronic health conditions, like kidney disease and dementia, and worsens diabetes. In fact, vascular diseases affect over 3.7 million Canadians and costs us over $30 billion dollars annually.

The toll, on the health care system, on patients and their families, and on lost opportunities, is enormous. Yet despite the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, there are reasons to be encouraged.

For example, we know more than ever about healthy lifestyles. By taking action on obesity, nutrition, physical activity, blood pressure, smoking and stress, people often make a more positive impact on their health than any medication or therapy could. I ask many patients, “Is your life worth one hour a day?”  because that’s how short it can take to do something heart-healthy.

"...vascular diseases affect over 3.7 million Canadians and costs us over $30 billion dollars annually. "

Along with prevention, we’ve made huge strides in cardiovascular treatments, technology, and rehabilitation too. How can we achieve greater progress in cardiovascular health? It’s vital to continually raise awareness around choices for everyday well-being and for care. 

As a cardiologist, I also know how important it is to boost health by increasing knowledge and education within the cardiovascular community.

The specialists who serve Canadians have a robust network to share research and best practices, moving knowledge from theory to application. Each year, the cardiovascular community also develops care guidelines that form a trusted and authoritative resource for health professionals.

Through the appropriate associations, my peers also advocate for improved health care policies. Making the case for better quality, access and appropriateness of care has a real influence on cardiovascular health in Canada.
The impact of cardiovascular disease remains severe. Still, when the public and physicians alike take steps to heed cardiovascular health messages, we’ll keep seeing advances in the field. That’s something that should hearten us all.