Spurred by rising obesity rates and aging baby boomers, the number of deaths from heart disease in Canada is set to dramatically outpace the rate of population growth, a noted demographer is warning.
In a report released by Becel in support of World Heart Day, David Foot, an author and professor of economics at the University of Toronto, cautions that the number of heart disease deaths will grow seven times as fast as Canada's population by the year 2031, while hospitalizations for heart disease will grow three times as fast as the population by 2051.
"This type of CVD (cardiovascular disease) mortality and hospitalization growth above population growth has three important levels of implications," says Foot in a news release. "For governments, it signals future fiscal challenges in terms of meeting the increased demand for services; at the health professional level, it indicates a significant shortfall in the number of workers available to treat the disease population; and for individuals, it sends an important message about the importance of reducing CVD risk in order to maintain a good quality of life."
The report, entitled The Shape of Things to Come: A National Report on Heart Disease and the Challenges Ahead, emphasizes a preventative strategy that targets risk factors such as obesity and saturated fats in the diet.
"One of the biggest misconceptions about heart disease is that we can't control it," says Dr. Greg Curnew, a cardiologist at McMaster University and report co-author. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
According to Foot's projections, by 2051, more than half of Canada's population will be over the age of 45, while more than 20% will be obese. Because age and obesity are two significant risk factors for heart disease, these two shifts will likely have a major impact on the rate of heart disease in the country.
"Now is the time to develop strategies that not only cope with the increased CVD needs of an aging population, but also attempt to decrease the probability of the disease occurring at all," says the report.
To that effect, the report gives numerous strategies for cutting the risk of heart disease among the general population. These include eating a heart-healthy diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and unsaturated fats; quitting smoking; keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check; and making exercise a regular part of your life.
The report also calls on the government to step up preventative initiatives, including a greater emphasis on public education, improving food labels, and reducing the price of produce and other healthy foods.
The report is available at www.becel.ca/shapeofthings.
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