The first wave of Canadian boomers receive a failing grade on heart health

It was report card time for Canadian boomers – and the results were not good.

According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Annual Report on Canadians’ Health, obesity rates among boomers have soared by 60 per cent over the past ten years. Another 52 per cent of today’s boomers are considered sedentary – and despite the sustained attention on the health implications of obesity and inactivity — 80 per cent continue to believe they will live longer than previous generations.

In fact, over half of the respondents surveyed think their weight has little or no bearing on their health.

“Boomers are clearly heading toward a downward spiral when it comes to their heart health,” warned Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and cardiologist. “The picture is not good when compared to today’s seniors.”

This is the picture: currently, one third of all deaths in Canada are caused by heart disease and stroke. Approximately 1.2 million, or 21 per cent of Canadians aged 45-59 have already been diagnosed with heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure. And the numbers are expected to rise as boomers begin to turn 60, the age wheneart disease begins to climb markedly.

Yet despite this grim forecast, there may still be hope.

“It’s never too late. No matter what your age, increasing activity, quitting smoking and losing weight – even modest weight loss – can reduce your blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol,” said Dr. Abramson. “This can go a long way to reducing your risk for developing heart disease and stroke and give you many more years of healthy active life.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is calling upon boomers to:

  • Take charge of your health. Be aware of your risk factors
  • Be smoke-free
  • Be physically active
  • Know and control your blood pressure
  • Eat a healthy diet that is lower in fat, especially saturated and trans fat
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage your diabetes
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Reduce stress
  • See your doctor regularly and follow your doctor’s advice
  • If it’s any comfort, Canada isn’t the only country facing an alarming obesity crisis.

    In the United States, 119 million people, or 64.5 per cent are overweight or obese, making Americans heavier than ever.

    A recent report from the Department of Health in the UK warned that British children could die before their parents unless the obesity crisis is solved. Even France is experiencing a growing rate of obesity, particularly among young people.

    Most experts agree that combating this global endemic is mainly a matter of instituting a healthy diet as well as a balanced fitness program. For older adults, exercise not only helps to combat obesity – which is linked to heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes – but can help to prevent osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. This applies even to simple exercise habits, such as taking daily brisk walks.

    And remember, even a modest weight reduction of 5 -10 per cent of body weight can bring about healthy results and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure and improving the cholesterol profile.

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