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Why prevention is the best medicine

Don’t let heart disease and stroke sneak up on you.This blog is here to help.

What if I told you that up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable?

Heart and Stroke Foundation CEO David Sculthorpe

David Sculthorpe, CEO, The Heart and Stroke Foundation.

For every 10 people diagnosed with these conditions before age 75, we could have prevented eight of them?

It’s true – and a shocking statistic when you think about it. Because heart disease and stroke continue to be leading causes of death in this country.

At this point, you may be asking yourself: If we can save eight out of 10 people, why aren’t we doing more? Why does heart disease and stroke still take a life every seven minutes?

What’s holding us back? Usually, it comes down to two factors:

  1. People think it’s never going to happen to them.
  2. Changing habits is hard.

Eating better and moving more is challenging for most people, including myself. I try to work out at least three times a week, but all too often I’m too busy, or too tired, to get to it. I try to walk to and from work every day, but there are many days when I’m in too much of a rush to get to work – or eager to get home to my wife and kids, so I take the car.

When I do get into the rhythm of being active – doing cardio classes, getting up a little earlier to make the walk or fit in some exercise before work – my mood is better, my stamina improves and I know I’m prolonging my life by improving my overall health. And I know being too busy is the worst excuse for not being active.

The saying “Use it or lose it” definitely applies. I want to be walking, skiing, playing tennis and being active long after I’ve retired. And I know the best way to ensure that happens is to be doing more of those things right now.

There’s a lot each of us can do to reduce our own risk. But we can’t do it alone. Preventing that 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke will take the full engagement of governments, industry, schools, the healthcare system… every aspect of society. It will also take our best minds – researchers like Dr. Grant Pierce.

Dr. Pierce, a professor of medicine at the University of Manitoba and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at St-Boniface Hospital, found that consuming ground flaxseed can dramatically reduce blood pressure, having the same positive effect as medication. Imagine – something as simple as adding three tablespoons a day to home-cooked meals has the potential to reduce the number of heart attacks and stroke by as much as 50 per cent.

Research like this – which was made possible by Heart and Stroke Foundation donors – gets me excited because I passionately believe that prevention is our biggest defence against heart disease and stroke. I can’t stress this enough: We’re up against two of the leading killers of Canadians. We need to throw everything we’ve got at them.

That’s why we’re launching this new Heart and Stroke Foundation blog. Here, you’ll find the latest innovations in heart and stroke research plus heart-healthy recipes, inspiring stories of change and survival, and simple, tangible ideas that will help you and your family feel better and live longer and stronger. Our aim is to stop heart disease and stroke in its tracks.

I hope you will join us on this journey and visit our blog regularly. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your ideas.


4 Responses

  1. Don Willoughby

    I’m a little miffed that after spending about 15 minutes completing your heart and stroke risk assessment questionaire a screen appeared announcing that the site doing the assessment is non-operational. What a needless waste of time, particularly when you multiply the 15 minutes by the number of people completing the questionaire.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Hi Don,
      I apologize that your experience in completing Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment wasn’t a positive one. I’ve just done a trial run on the site and it seems to be working now. It may be that this was the result of a temporary technical glitch. I hope you will give it another try as it is a great tool that not only identifies our risk for heart disease and stroke but also offers suggestions on ways to reduce it. Again, I am sorry it didn’t work for you on your initial try – I know how frustrating it can be to devote time to something with no results at the end. Thanks for taking the time to let us know, and please feel free to reach out again if you experience any further issues.

      Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

  2. Mac

    Great article David. Earlier this year, I lost my dad, I’m still processing the pain. He never recovered from the stroke he suffered 7 years ago. The complications and lack of proper treatment decreased his mobility and quality of life during that period. Back in Africa (Nigeria) where he lives, it is sad that people are not very aware of Stroke. The two factors is exactly what I experience when I try to educate people about Stroke. The sad fact is that, too many people do not recognize that small things do make a difference. We are launching a campaign this and next year to create awareness around the issue and early investigation (context analysis), showing there is a big gap in education and treatment. Your article is a good piece that can be used to educate people. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth

      Hi Mac, and thank you for your positive comment about the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s blog post “Why prevention is the best medicine.” I am very sorry to learn of your dad’s stroke and subsequent death. We are gratified that you will use our blog article to help create and sustain more awareness about the risk factors and warning signs of stroke in your country. Please also note that there is a wealth of information that you may find useful on the stroke section of our website at

      Thank you again for your comment and best wishes for a successful campaign.

      Sharon at the Heart and Stroke Foundation

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