Young adults now an ‘at-risk’ group for heart disease: report
NationalPost.com – Life – Young adults now an ‘at-risk’ group for heart disease: report
Published: Monday, January 25, 2010. Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest News Service
Among Canadians aged 35 to 49, high blood pressure rates have increased by 127%, a new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation says. Simon Hayter for National Post Among Canadians aged 35 to 49, high blood pressure rates have increased by 127%, a new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation says.
Young adults were officially designated as one of Canada’s newest at-risk groups for heart disease Monday with the release of a new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The annual report warns that a “perfect storm”of risk factors and demographic changes are converging to pose unprecedented threats to the health system and that no Canadian, young or old, is immune to the dangers of heart disease.
“In a very short period of time, the face of heart disease in Canada has changed,” Stephen Samis, director of health policy for the foundation, said at a news conference in Toronto. “It still includes groups that historically have been associated with the threat of heart disease. But a combination of new at-risk groups and an explosion of unhealthy behaviours across the country are now converging and are threatening to erase the progress we’ve made in the last 50 years in treating heart disease.”
In the span of a decade, 1994 to 2005, rates of high blood pressure among all Canadians jumped by 77%, diabetes by 45% and obesity by 18%, according to the report. Those conditions, all major risk factors for heart disease, were traditionally associated with aging but now they are becoming more prevalent among younger adults.
“Given that we as a society are becoming overweight, out of shape and not physically active, we’re starting to see these risk factors emerge in young individuals,” said Dr. Beth Abramson, a cardiologist and spokeswoman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “It’s something we would have never predicted in the last 15 years.”
There are now more than 250,000 Canadians in their 20s and 30s who have high blood pressure.
The rates of inactivity, obesity, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure that are all putting young adults at risk for stroke and heart disease are “disturbing” the foundation says.
Among Canadians aged 35 to 49, high blood pressure rates have increased by 127%, diabetes by 64% and obesity by 20%.
“We can no longer operate under the current stereotypes,” said Dr. Marco Di Buono, director of research for the foundation’s Ontario branch. “In this country heart disease simply is no longer a disease of middle-aged white men.”
The 2010 report also identified other new at-risk groups.
“Boomers are entering their senior years less healthy than ever,” Abramson said. One in five adults aged 50 to 64 already has two or more of the risk factors for heart disease, the report notes.
Aboriginal Canadians are experiencing a “cardiovascular crisis” and it is expected to worsen as the population grows.
The report also indicates that Canadians of South Asian, African and Caribbean descent are at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke because of higher rates of elevated blood pressure and diabetes.
Cities with large populations of these groups, such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, are going to face pressure to care for them as they age, the report says.
A growing number of women are also “laying the foundation for heart disease,”according to the report, because they are inactive, overweight and smoking. More women die in Canada from heart disease and stroke than from all forms of cancer combined, it also said.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation developed a national heart health strategy and is seeking financial support from the federal government for it.
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