There are several factors that increase the risk of developing CVD. These risk factors may be nonmodifiable, such as a family history of cardiovascular disease, race (black, aborginal), and age.1,3,19 However, many of the risk factors for heart attack and stroke are indeed modifiable with changes in behavior, drugs, or diet. Eighty percent of the Canadian population has at least one modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease.3 Smoking is "the single most important cause of preventable illness and premature death for Canadians."3 Other risk factors that can be controlled are diabetes and obesity (or metabolic syndrome20,21), sedentary lifestyles, stress, hypertension,3,10 and dyslipidemia.3,8 Thus, the incidence of cardiovascular disease can be attenuated by increases in physical activity, smoking cessation, controlling diabetes with insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents, controlling hypertension with various antihypertensive drugs, cholesterol-lowering therapy with drugs, and better choices in diet. For example, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which includes lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy products, while limiting meat, sugars, fats, and salt, is a viable way to prevent and treat hypertension.
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