The three best lifestyle changes for Canadians with heart disease

Sep 19 | Heart Health

By Jane Edgar, Freelance Writer

Approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults have heart disease. This makes the condition the 2nd leading cause of death in the country. Despite these discouraging numbers, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can positively affect one’s prognosis. Aside from doctor-recommended tips (e.g. refrain from smoking, limit alcohol use), there are other key strategies that can be used to fight against the effects of this devastating disease. Here are three of the best lifestyle changes that nearly all Canadians with heart disease can begin using immediately:

Switch to a low-carb diet

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, diets that feature higher-fat, low-carb meals can actually be healthy for those with heart disease. In fact, a group known as Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition (which represents 4,500 physicians) formally backed and promoted low-carb eating earlier this year. They spoke against the country’s current guidelines of a high-carb, low-fat diet, citing the many benefits of low-carb diets for patients. If an individual eats healthy sources of protein and avoids red meat, low-carb diets can lower bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and help the heart overall. When it comes to choosing between keto vs. Atkins diets, one’s individual health must be taken into consideration. If unsure, speaking with a nutrition professional can help establish which way of eating is best for you.

Walk as your primary source of exercise

Nearly every health professional will advise heart disease patients to exercise to some degree. While there are many excellent ways to get the necessary amount of activity, research has shown that one workout stands out above the rest. For those who have heart disease, walking produces numerous cardiovascular benefits. With minimal time invested (30 minutes/5 times per week), Harvard researchers report that “walking reduce[s] the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%, [and] cut[s] the risk of dying by 32%.” Unlike aerobic activities that can prove to be too strenuous, walking provides the perfect amount of physical activity to those who wish to improve their heart health.

Omega-3 fatty acids

In addition to having a diet rich in nutrients, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids is wise for those who have heart disease. Although it is a fat, omega-3 provides a tremendous amount of benefits for the heart. The Mayo Clinic reports that this substance has the power to “decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, and reduce irregular heartbeats.” One great way to consume omega-3 fatty acids is by eating certain types of fish, such as salmon.

Among the many things that you can do to improve your health after receiving a heart disease diagnosis, the three strategies noted above are some of the best choices available. As always, before making any significant changes, speak with your doctor to ensure that your choices are right for your individual situation.