Risk Factors


High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the heart pumping blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, such as 120/80, and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

  • The top number (systolic) is the force of blood when the heart contracts
  • The bottom number (diastolic) is the force of blood when the heart relaxes
  • Both numbers are important
Ottawa Heart Institute

Blood pressure is dynamic, meaning that it will change throughout the day. When you exercise your top number (systolic) rises and the bottom number (diastolic) stays same or drops a little.

In order to determine whether blood pressure is a risk for cardiovascular disease it is important to measure your RESTING blood pressure (resting sitting in comfortable chair for 5 minutes).  Home monitors can be very accurate and reliable. When your resting blood pressure is consistently above 140/90 you are considered to have high blood pressure, or hypertension.

To get a reliable measure:

  • Same time daily; same arm
  • Sitting and rest 5 min, comfortable with arm resting on table
  • Before medication
  • At least 30 min after smoking, caffeine, exercise

For more information visit:

Canadian Hypertension Education Program


Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. The good news is that people with diabetes can lower their risk considerably by paying careful attention to ALL of their risk factors.

For more, see these links:

Canadian Diabetes Association

Heart & Stroke Foundation Diabetes


Cholesterol is fat that is found in our blood. There are two main types of cholesterol that are tested by a blood test; low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). Triglycerides and total cholesterol are also measured in a standard blood cholesterol test.

  • LDL is referred to as 'bad' cholesterol because high levels can contribute to plaque or fatty deposits in the artery walls.
  • HDL is referred to as 'good' cholesterol because  it helps remove excess cholesterol from circulating blood.
  • Blood Cholesterol levels are controlled by both what the body naturally makes itself as well as what you eat.  A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fibre and low in saturated fats can help to improve cholesterol levels.
LDL "Bad" Cholesterol

To learn more:

Heart & Stroke Foundation - What is Cholesterol?

BC Health Files- Dietary Fat and your Health

Niacin & Cholesterol


Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable disease and death worldwide. Tobacco is associated with an increased prevelance of countleess disorders and diseases. Currently, gobal tobacco use is set on a trajectory to cause 1 billion deaths in the 21st century (Source Drope et al., 2018)

Tobacco use contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease by causing the following problems;

  • increase in triglycerides
  • lowering of HDL (high density lipoprotein/good cholesterol)
  • damage to the cells that line blood vessels
  • thickening and narrowing of blood vessels
  • formation of clots, blocking blood flow
(Source; Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, 2014)

Quit Now

Physical Activity

Canada Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week. Aerobic activities will make you sweat a little and breathe harder like walking, biking, swimming and many more.

To learn more:

Canadian Activity Guidelines Adults 18 - 64 years

Canadian Activity Guidelines for older adult


Exercise Progression after Heart Attack

Excess Weight

Almost 64% of Canadian adults are overweight or obese. Obese Canadians are four times as likely to have diabetes, more than 3 times as likely to have high blood pressure and more than two times more likely to have heart disease than those with a healthy weight.    (Statistics Canada 2018)

To assess health risk, calculate your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Even modest weight loss (5-10%) of initial body weight has positive benefits on risk factors for heart disease.

Body Mass Calculator
 Healthy Range  20-25
 Overweight  26-29
 Obese  >30

How to properly measure waist circumference with tape measure




 Caucasian/European/Sub Saharan African, Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterrenean  102cm (40in)  88cm (35in)
 South Asian, Malaysian, Central Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Asian  90cm (35in)  80cm (32in)

*Heart & Stroke Foundation 2011

Weight and Your Health • Heart & Stroke Foundation


When you’re under stress, do you;

  • use food to relax?    
  • drink more alcohol or increase smoke use?
  • work too much or too little?
  • delay getting things done?
  • sleep too little or too much?

The amount of stress you are experiencing and how you react to it can lead to chronic health problems. Stress may increase these negative health behaviors which in turn increase cardiovascular risk factors and the establishment of disease.

Improving Mental Health

Mental health is not only the avoidance of serious mental illness. Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships. In this section you will find resources to help you stay mentally fit and healthy.

Click the link to read more https://cmha.bc.ca/programs-services/bounce-back/

Ways to reduce stress

Kelowna Cardiology Associates Recommendations







Health Links

Make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.

  • Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat.

Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.
  • Prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars, or saturated fat.
  • Choose healthier menu options when eating out.
  • Make water your choice of drink - replace sugary drinks with water

Use food labels and be aware that food marketing can influence your choices.

View Canada's most recent food guide at https://food-guide.canada.ca/

Heart Failure

This easy to follow module is designed to help individuals and their family members learn more about heart failure. It provides information about what heart failure is, what you may expect living with heart failure and tips you can consider to help you better manage. There is also a section with other useful website resources and information about local services.

It's about life, not failure.

HeartLife Foundation https://heartlife.ca


CSBC Atrial Fibrillation Brochure

What is SCAD?

SCAD, spontaneous coronary artery dissection, is defined as a tear in the coronary arterial wall that is not related to trauma or medical instrumentation. This spontaneous tear can occur from a disruption of the innermost lining of the arterial wall, causing blood to rush in from the lumen (center channel of the artery) into the arterial wall. Alternatively, separation of the arterial walls can occur from bleeding due to spontaneous rupture of small vessels that feed the arterial wall. The buildup of blood inside the arterial wall compresses the lumen, blocking blood flow to the heart.

Click the link to read more http://scad.ubc.ca/

And more information can be found at this link https://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=spontaneous-coronary-artery-dissection-guide

This link is for a facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/118338432196390/about/

Local Cardiologist Educational Videos

 Dr. Frank Halperin, MD, FRCPC, FACC, Cardiologist;  What is Atrial Fibrillation?
 Dr. Stephen Fort, MD, MBChB, FRCSC, Cardiologist:  What is AF and treatment options
 Dr. Guy Fradet, MD, FACS, FRCSC, Cardiothoracic Surgeon:   CABG - Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
 Pamela Luehr, BSN, CCNC, Cardiovascular Nurse:   Fluid Moderation for Heart Failure Patients
  Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist:    Heart Attack vs. Sudden Death
  Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist:    What is a defibrilator?
  Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist:    What is a pacemaker?
  Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist:    What is Cardiac Resynchronization?
  Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist:    Warfarin and New Alternatives
  Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist:    Beta Blockers, Ace Inhibitors, and Diuretics

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

A Doctor-Professor answers the old question "What is the single best thing we can do for our health" in a completely new way. Dr. Mike Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael's Hospital.

Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance

What are congenital heart defects?

A congenital heart defect (CHD) is a structural problem (or defect) in the heart that is present at birth. They were once considered a childhood disease, when the life expectancy was limited to a few weeks, months, and in a few cases, several years.

See more at: cchaforlife.org

South Asian Network Supporting Awareness and Research

Individuals of South Asian origin (from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan) face a higher burden of heart disease and diabetes compared to other ethnic groups:
  • South Asians have twice the risk for developing coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to Caucasians.
  • They also face 40% higher mortality due to CAD than white Caucasians.
  • 50% of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 50 years of age, and 25% of all heart attacks happen under 40 years of age. This is 10-15 years earlier than people from other parts of the world.
  • India accounts for approximately 60% of the world's heart disease burden, even though it holds less than 20% of the world's population.

This is where SANSAR, the South Asian Network Supporting Awareness and Research, comes in. SANSAR has been working with the South Asian community since 2009 to promote cardiovascular health through education, community awareness and research.

- See more at: http://sansar.org

COACH Manual



Heart Anatomy & Procedures

Risk Factors for Heart Disease


Stress Management

Eat Smart

Exercise Guidelines

Goal Setting and Motivation


Heart Failure

Tobacco and Alcohol Reduction

Advanced Care Planning