Heart and Stroke

Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the number one killer in Canada. It is also the most costly disease in Canada, putting the greatest burden on our national health care system.

A number of factors, individually or in combination, can lead to heart disease:

  • Smoking;
  • Diets rich in saturated fat;
  • Physical inactivity;
  • Stress;
  • A family history of heart disease; and
  • Being overweight.

Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and diabetes are also potent risk factors.

Men are generally more likely to develop heart disease. An increasing number of women are experiencing heart disease but they are under-diagnosed. For both sexes, the risk of heart disease increases with age.

For more information on symptoms and health effects of stroke and how to minimize your risk, consult It's Your Health factsheet on stroke.

Heart Healthy Tips

  • Don't smoke.
    Not smoking or quitting smoking reduces your risk of developing heart disease and not smoking may help to increase the "good" cholesterol in your blood. It also reduces your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and common cancers.
  • Eat a wider variety of foods.
    According to Canada's Food Guide, as part of a balanced diet, we should enjoy a variety of foods and choose lower-fat foods more often.
  • Get moving.
    As little as 60 minutes a day of accumulated physical activity will help keep your heart in shape. Not sure how to start? Try the Physical Activity Guide for some ideas.
  • Eating well and staying physically active will help you to control your weight. Avoid fad or miracle diets.
  • Have regular medical check-ups that include measurement of your blood cholesterol level. You can also be tested for diabetes, one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

If you have any concerns about your heart health, be sure and ask your doctor.


The Public Health Agency of Canada offers the following information and tools:

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