Cardiac Risks & Facts

  • 90% of people have at least 1 risk factor for heart disease or stroke (Retrieved from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario)
  • 1 person has a cardiac arrest every 12 minutes totaling 45,000 cardiac arrests every year (Retrieved from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada)
  • By the year 2030, 23.4 million people will die from heart disease and stroke compared to 11.8 that will die from cancer (World Health Organization 2008)
  • Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia and effects approximately 2% of the population (Retrieved from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario)

Welcome to the Cardiac Care Network - knowing your risk factors for heart disease.

What are your specific  risks for having a heart attack - Take the quiz

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk Assessment

Facts on Obesity - 60% of Canadians are overweight or obese. Evaluate your cardiovascular risks related to obesity.

Calculate your ideal weight - BMI Tool

Calculate your ideal waist size - Healthy waists

Blood Cholesterol - Approximately 40% of Canadians have high cholesterol.  Having high blood cholesterol plays an important role in the development of coronary artery disease.

Resources for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Facts on  High Blood Pressure - 53% of people age 60-79 have high blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure is important so the heart does not have to work harder.

When you have your blood pressure taken, there are two pressures that can be measured.  The first is the systolic reading, which is the pressure put on the arteries as the blood is ejected from the heart.  The diastolic reading is the pressure in between beats, when the heart rests.





   120-129 / 80-84


   130-139 / 85-89

   High blood pressure (measured in a doctor’s office)

   High blood pressure (measured at home with home monitoring  

   High blood pressure for people with diabetes or kidney disease

   140 / 90 or higher

   135 / 85 or higher

   130 / 80 or higher

Lifestyle choices - Things you can change to decrease your risk of heart disease.

Fact: Physical inactivity is now recognized as a major risk factor for various types of heart disease.  People who are physically inactive have twice the risk of having heart disease and stroke.

Inactivity: 50% of Canadians over age 12 are inactive. Because of this 21% develop coronary artery disease, have a stroke, or  
high blood pressure.

Only 15% of Canadians engage in moderate to vigorous activity for 150 minutes a week.

Benefits of regular exercise

Exercise may improve feelings of depression, anxiety and reduce your stress level.

By adding small amounts of exercise into your daily routine you can reduce blood pressure and your risk of a cardiac event.
Other benefits of increasing your level of activity:

  • Improves heart and lung function
  • Blood pressure at rest is reduced
  • Body fat is reduced
  • Cholesterol both Total and LDL("bad cholesterol") is reduced
  • Cholesterol HDL ("good cholesterol") increases
  • Energy level increases
  • Stress and depression are reduced
  • Diabetes risk of developing the disease is reduced

Physical activity after a heart attack is important to reduce your risk of having another event and improves the chance of survival.

What is your Target Heart Rate when you Exercise?  Always consult your healthcare professional before starting any Activity.

220 - age = Maximum heart rate (MHR)

MHR x 0.8= Target heart rate upper range

MHR x 0.7= Target heart rate mid range

MHR x 0.6= Target heart rate lower range

MHR x 0.5= Target heart rate for Heart failure patient

What Type of Physical Activity is Best?

Any type of exercise is good if it makes your muscles work more than usual.  The heart is a muscle that benefits from a workout just like all the other muscles in your body.

Physical activities that move the legs and arms are especially good for the heart.  Activities such as walking , running, swimming, bicycling, and dancing all involve rhythmic movements and are called aerobic exercises.  These aerobic exercises condition the heart to pump the blood more effectively to the whole body.

It's best to do aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most or all the days of the week.  A good rule of thumb is to exercise to a point that you are breathing harder but still able to carry on a conversation.

Stretching and strengthening activities keep your muscles in good working order.  As we age, muscles lose their strength and flexibility.  When your muscles aren't in good shape, you are more likely to lose your balance and fall.  Strengthening exercise can also boost your metabolism and help you lose weight faster.

Endurance activities are continuous exercises like walking, cycling, and tennis.  These are especially beneficial to your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
Aim to complete these activities 4 to 7 times a week.

Strength activities, such as carrying groceries and weight training, help to strengthen your muscles and bones and improve posture. 
Aim for 2 to 4 times a week.

Flexibility activities, such as stretching, yoga, housework, or golfing keep your muscles relaxed and your joints mobile.  Try to include some forms of stretching 4 to 7 times a week.

Before you start and finish aerobic or strengthening activities walk slowly for 5 to 10 minutes and then do some stretching.  Warming up before exercise and cooling down slowly after exercise help prevent injury to your muscles and soreness the next day.  It also allows your heartbeat and breathing to slowly return to normal. 

Watch for Warning signs you are doing too much:

Angina is a feeling of squeezing, burning, pressure, heaviness or tightness under the breastbone that may spread to your arm, shoulder, back, throat or jaw. 

Lightheaded where you are feeling dizzy or confused.

Extremely tired after physical activity.

Unusual or extreme shortness of breath.

Fast or irregular heartbeat.

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms during activity, stop immediately and call your doctor.  If you have angina that doesn't go away with rest, take nitroglycerin as directed. If you need more than 3 sprays or experience nausea, vomiting or sweating call 911 and go to the nearest emergency department, you may be having a heart attack. 

Exercise Links

Fact: Smoking

Smoking is the cause of 14.5% of all deaths related to heart disease and stroke.

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke has many negative health effects that increase your risks of developing heart disease and stroke.  Smoking contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, increases the risk of developing blood clots, reduces oxygen in your blood, increases blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.  Smoking nearly doubles your risk of ischemic stroke.

More than 47,000 Canadians will die prematurely each year due to tobacco use.  Almost 8,000 non-smokers will die from exposure to second-hand smoke.

Once you are smoke free you will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.  The sooner you are smoke free the sooner your body can start to recover.

  • Within 48 hrs, your chance of having a heart attack start to go down and your sense of smell and taste start to improve.
  • Within 1 year, your risk of suffering a heart attack due to smoking is cut in half.
  • Within 15 years, your risk of heart attack is the same as someone who never smoked at all.

Tools and resources to help you become smoke free.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease- Non-Modifiable

Gender: Female

Health Canada reports that:

  • The number 1 cause of death for women is cardiovascular disease.
  •  40% of the deaths for women are from heart disease and stroke
  • Women who have diabetes, are menopausal, smoke, have high blood pressure,and are inactive have an even higher risk of heart disease.

Rurality: The Public Health Agency of Canada states that those living in rural areas of Canada have a higher risk of death related to circulatory disease such as high blood pressure and heart disease.These factors are complicated by risks that can be controlled, like smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.

South Asians have higher than average rates of heart disease. There are resources available to help you assess your risks for heart disease and stroke. 

First Nations: the leading cause of death is from circulatory disease . Of the First Nations people: 46% smoke, 79% are physically inactive, obesity rates are approximately 35%, 20.4% will have high blood pressure compared to the Canadian average of 16.4% These are risks you can change and there are tools that can help you.


  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario - Statistics
  • Health Canada
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Hypertension Canada
  • Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
  • American Heart Association