For professionals: Heart diseases and conditions

Access detailed information on heart diseases and blood circulation conditions, including the most recent statistics, risk factors, key publications.

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What health professionals need to know about heart diseases and conditions

In Canada, heart disease is the second leading cause of death after cancer, and is a leading cause of hospitalization.

In 2013, ischemic heart disease was the:

  • main cause of years of life lost (YLL) due to premature mortality
  • second leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost

About 2.4 million (8.5%) Canadians 20 years and older are living with diagnosed ischemic heart disease. Between April 2012 and March 2013, there were about 159,000  new diagnosed cases, of which 57% were men and 43% were women. Ischemic heart disease is associated with 17.2 deaths per 1,000 individuals diagnosed with the disease.

On average, individuals diagnosed with ischemic heart disease are 3 times more likely to die than those without the condition. The likelihood of death increases when it progresses through the cardiovascular disease continuum. It can progress to acute myocardial infarction (4 times more likely) and heart failure (6 times more likely). This is the case when compared to those without these conditions.

Risk factors

Risk factors include both strenuous exercise and cold weather because they can increase blood pressure and heart rate. They can also elevate blood concentration of fibrinogen, a protein associated with blood clotting. But when strenuous exercise and cold weather are combined, the risk of heart attack is even greater.

As the heart beats faster, the shape of the blood vessels can change. Those who have died while shoveling snow tend to have plaque inside their blood vessels. The vessels rupture under the strain. This rupture may be caused by an increase in blood pressure or changes in vascular tone linked to physical exertion.

Acute heart problems increase in connection with significant decreases in outdoor temperature. Research indicates that a decrease in temperature of 10 degrees represents a 38% increased risk of recurrent heart attack.

Key publications and reports

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Science, research and data

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