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Fewer Ontarians dying of heart disease

May 12, 2010

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Study finds the rate of deaths related to heart disease decreased by 35 per cent in Ontario between 1994 and 2005.

The rate of deaths related to heart disease decreased by 35 per cent in Ontario between 1994 and 2005 due to improvements in lifestyle factors and medical treatments, a new population study shows.

Improvements in traditional risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure were responsible for about half of the reduction in deaths, while new medical and surgical treatments were associated with 43 percent of the decrease.

"Identifying the underlying factors associated with this decline is critical for planning future health policy and prioritizing strategies for prevention," says Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera, interventional cardiologist at the Schulich Heart Centre and lead author of the study.

Although a reductions in smoking and inactivity each played an important role in the decline in CHD related deaths, the biggest difference came from a reduction in cholesterol levels and blood pressure - each representing about 20 percent of overall reductions in death.

The most important change regarding new medical and surgical treatments was the number of patients taking appropriate medications.

"What people living with coronary heart disease should take away from this study is that they have a lot of power when it comes to managing their heart disease," adds Dr. Wijeysundera. "Making lifestyle changes like exercising, eating right and not smoking is equally as important as the medical treatment they receive so those factors need to be taken just as seriously."

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