Katherine George  A young healthy adult with a good exercise and diet shouldn’t show any signs of cardiovascular disease

Katherine George
A young healthy adult with a good exercise and diet shouldn’t show any signs of cardiovascular disease

Katherine George

Life Reporter 

A new study gets down to the heart of the matter showing only one in 10 Canadians adults have a good heart.

A study by a team of researchers who worked alongside the Heart and Stroke Foundation, showed a good heart is hard to find.

The study, published in the December 2013 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, developed a Cardiovascular Health in Ambulatory Care Research Team (CANHEART) health index to successfully analyze health behaviours and factors contributing to cardiovascular disease.

These contributing factors include, exercise, smoking, fruit and vegetable intake, diabetes, hypertension and body weight.

The study shows a mere 9.4 percent of Canadian adults, aged 20 and older, showed signs of ideal cardiovascular health between 2009 and 2010.

The choices students make today will have an impact on their health later, said Catherine McKee, the registered nurse coordinator on the North and Lakeshore campuses at Humber College.

“Abuse – many years with diet, alcohol and smoking along with genetics cause wear and tear to the cardiovascular system,” said McKee.

Dr. Jack V. Tu, a contributing author to the study, said smoking is the most important contributing factor to heart disease in young adults.

“They are all important, but the most important in young people is smoking in terms of causing heart attacks.”

Heart disease is still relatively uncommon in young adults he said, but it definitely happens.

“It is something that is more prevalent than it used to be. I would say it is still less than one percent of people under the age of 50,” said Tu.

“A young healthy adult with good exercise and diet shouldn’t show any signs of cardiovascular disease unless there are genetics or trauma,” said McKee, adding some heart problems can occur without warning.

“One of the scary things about heart problems as far as symptoms is that some are silent. Hypertension, a large cause of heart attack and stroke are often termed the silent killer,” McKee said.

Symptoms of heart disease may be hard to find, but Dr. Jack Tu said there are still subtle and overt signs young adults can look for.

“The classical way people are taught to look for heart disease is chest pain, but a lot of people don’t necessarily have those classical symptoms particularly in younger women,” he said.

Individuals can look for bad indigestion, fatigue when walking, shortness in breath, excessive sweating or sometimes pain in the shoulder, jaw and belly, he said.

“A healthy body means a healthy mind. I do believe they go hand in hand,” said McKee.