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Happy Birthday, Dad. How old is YOUR heart?

For some, waking up to fresh fallen snow is a delight. Perhaps you’re a skier or were hoping for a storm day, nothing beats waking up to the ground covered with the white stuff.

Except…

Except when you are the one responsible for removing the snow from your driveway and walkway so that you and your loved ones can come and go easily. This morning we awoke to 20 centimeters of snow topped off with a few millimeters of freezing rain, otherwise known as “heart attack snow.”

IMG_4439Thirteen years ago, my family was rocked to our core by heart attack snow and I’ll never forget it. My dad suffered a heart attack and almost left us at 65 years of age. He had been out snow blowing the day before his heart attack, something that we are certain contributed to his heart attack. While he wasn’t shoveling, he was pushing heavy snow with the machine and lacking oxygen as the snow and wind blew in his face. The following week, he suffered another heart attack. Again, we were lucky that he survived. I’m happy to say he’s still with us and has celebrated weddings, family gatherings and the birth of four more grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Thankfully Dad survived his two heart attacks but these episodes introduced a whole new chapter in our family medical history – heart disease. Yes, there were some factors (besides the snow blowing) that contributed to his heart attacks. It certainly has made us more aware of our own heart health. Heart Disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada.

February is Heart month. It’s also the month that my dad celebrates his 78th birthday. So when I was presented with an opportunity to help Shoppers Drug Mart promote the Heart Age Calculator, I knew it was something I wanted to do – and HAD to do because knowledge is power when it comes to heart health.

The Heart Age Calculator is a unique online tool that helps Canadians calculate their cardiovascular age and assess their risk of heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years by answering simple lifestyle questions (like your height, age, weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, personal and family history, your daily habits and more). (P.S. – It’s the only scientifically validated online tool available that provides a personalized heart age and cardiovascular risk profile as recommended by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines.)

By taking this test you can determine if your heart is older than your true age and learn ways to improve your health. Several factors can influence your heart age, like your blood pressure levels, cholesterol, and smoking. It’s important to know if your heart is aging faster than you because research shows knowing the cardiovascular age of your heart may lead to better heart health management.

My heart age is 35.7 years, not too bad for a chick who turned 39 last month. But… I know I could do better. I’ve become more active in the last six months but I have a long way to go. I also need to go and get my cholesterol checked just to be sure the numbers are still average.

Your turn… take the test and find out your Heart Age here and then come back here and let me know what you think of your result in the comments below. Is your heart younger or older than you thought? What is one thing you are going to do to take care of your heart?

If your goal is to take better care of your heart, you can start with these 5 easy steps:

  1. Stop Smoking: After you quit smoking, your risk of a heart attack starts to drop after only 2 days. After one year, your risk of heart disease will be just half of what it was when you were a smoker.
  2. Monitoring your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. The higher your blood pressure is, the higher your risk of heart disease.
  3. Applying an active lifestyle: If you do not get enough exercise, your risk of heart disease doubles. Getting active will combat the number one risk factor for heart disease.
  4. Regulating your cholesterol levels: As your cholesterol levels go up, so does your risk of heart disease. You can get your cholesterol under control by eating healthy, exercise and quitting smoking. Some people may also need medications to help control their cholesterol.
  5. Taking control: Become more engaged about your heart health and seek the advice of medical professionals to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle.

I hope it doesn’t take a heart attack to make you realize how important it is to take care of your heart. Take the test. Make some changes. Your loved ones will thank you.

Disclosure – Although this post has been sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect the views, opinions or positions of Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. or its affiliates or licensees. Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information within this blog post and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or for any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

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