Examine your heart risk factors

Ninety-two percent of Canadian adults are seriously underestimating one of the key risk factors for developing heart disease, according to a new survey carried out by Bayer. The Bayer 2000 Heart Health Survey reveals that only eight per cent of respondents are aware that having a parent or sibling with heart disease doubled their own risk of having a heart attack.

Most Canadians believed the effect was much less significant, with 33 percent of respondents indicating they believed the risk was increased by only a quarter, and 26 percent believing their risk increased by only half.

International studies have identified that a family history of heart disease doubles an individual’s risk of developing heart disease. The risk is often tripled for women with a family history of heart disease as well as for those with family members who developed heart disease before age 60.

“People with a history of heart disease in the family — especially among immediate relatives under the age of 60 — should consult their health care provider for advice on how to reduce their risk,” advised Dr.Anatoly Langer, Staff Cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. “While some risk facrs such as family history, age and gender cannot be changed, it is possible to modify others.”

Bayer sponsored the survey as the maker of Aspirin. ASA has been shown to help prevent heart attacks by inhibiting the formation of blood clots. If you have a family history of heart disease, ask your doctor if a daily regimen of ASA can help you. Remember, other types of popular pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen do not have the same risk reducing properties of ASA.