Heart disease affects approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults, and is the second leading cause of death in Canada.
We can all reduce our risk of heart disease by making healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol intake. To help make the healthier choice a little easier and more accessible, the Government of Canada is investing in programs like Break it Off, Run to Quit, Don’t Change Much, APPLE Schools and Kid Food Nation. Through participation in these programs, Canadians are quitting smoking, becoming more physically active and learning healthy eating habits.
We are also working to create a healthier food environment. Since the launch of the Healthy Eating Strategy more than a year ago, we have made significant progress to improve nutrition labelling, reduce trans fats, restrict marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, and reduce sodium consumption. We are revising Canada’s Food Guide so that it meets the needs of all Canadians. And, with Indigenous partners, we are developing tools to support healthy eating and improve access to healthy foods in remote and isolated northern communities
We continue to work on reducing smoking rates and protecting youth from nicotine addiction and inducements to tobacco use through a number of initiatives, as proposed in Bill S-5. This includes limiting access to vaping products to those over 18 years of age and restricting the promotion of flavours that appeal to youth. I look forward to continued collaboration with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and all Canadians to drive down tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035.
Our risk for heart disease is not only influenced by our lifestyle choices, but also by biological and socio-economic factors. These factors can include age, family history, income and access to healthy foods and physical activity where we work, live and play. Additionally, pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase our risk of developing heart disease. Monitoring health inequalities and adapting interventions to the unique needs and circumstances of diverse Canadian communities is key to our health promotion and prevention efforts.
To pave the way for better treatments and tailored prevention strategies, we are investing in research and initiatives like the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Advancing Women’s Heart Health. This initiative is supporting research on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and stroke in women; promoting collaboration between research institutions across the country; and investing in female and Indigenous scientists engaged in research focused on women’s vascular health.
During Heart Month, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about their individual risk factors for heart disease, and to make one change to protect or improve their heart health. Even making one small change towards a healthier lifestyle can make a big difference!
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health