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Patient Education & Resources
Have You Taken Your LIFESAVERS Today?
Certain kinds of medication should be used for all patients with vascular disease. These types of medications are used to prevent worsening of disease that is already present, or progression of disease not yet detected. The drugs listed below are known as the "Lifesavers" because all of these types of drugs have been proven to save lives.
Vascular disease is the term to describe narrowed or damaged arteries. It is the condition that leads to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, aneurysms, blocked vessels in the legs, and is the major cause of death in Canada. It is a "systemic disorder" - that means if you have it anywhere, you have it, at least to some extent, everywhere. Being diabetic is the same as having established vascular disease. In addition to drugs, here are some things you can do to help. Best results are obtained using both drugs and lifestyle changes.
Smoking: The single biggest risk factor, that is totally within your control, is smoking. There is some good news: vascular disease patients who quit smoking will, within 2 years, reduce their risks to be equivalent to someone who has never smoked. Resources to help you: Public Health Units, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Lung Association, Health Canada, adjunctive therapy like hypnosis and acupuncture as well as specific medications that your doctor can prescribe to assist you in quitting.
Diet: Being overweight is a risk factor and makes it harder to exercise. Eating a healthy diet, limiting refined sugars and replacing them with complex carbohydrates (whole grain high fibre), plenty of fruits and vegetables and some lean protein can go a long way to help you with weight control. You will also feel more energetic, more successful and more motivated to take on other challenges - like stopping smoking.Resources to help you:Heart and Stroke Foundation, cardiac rehabilitation programmes in your area, local health unit programmes and local dieticians.
Alcohol: It is true that small doses of alcohol may actually be good for your heart (observe the restrictions on your medication bottles - alcohol should not be used at all if you are on certain drugs). It is not true that more alcohol is better. More than one drink a day for females and two drinks a day for males is likely to be harmful to your overall health. It is also a good idea to take a day off alcohol at least one day per week. If someone in your family or a close friend thinks you have a drinking problem, they are probably right. Resources to help you: Alcoholics Anonymous. FOURCAST.
Exercise: The benefits of regular exercise cannot be overstated. Weight control, improved energy, reduced depression, better fitness and reduced risk for serious cardiovascular events are among the long list of good outcomes. It does not have to be vigorous high level exercise, but it does have to be sustained and regular. Ideally, 30 - 60 minutes 5-7 times per week. Even if you just walk for that period of time, you will enjoy major benefits. Start slowly. A few minutes a day is a good start. There is no age limit. And yes, even the oldsters can benefit from lifting light toning weights. Strength training helps improve your ability to get around and will reduce your chances of falls and broken bones. Resources to help you: Public Health Units, Heart and Stroke Foundation, cardiac rehab facilities and local gyms/health clubs.
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