MONTREAL, October 18, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ninety per cent of Canadians are facing an unacceptable risk of developing vascular disease and we have to act now to reduce its increasing burden, say leading health experts at the Vascular 2013 Congress in Montreal this week.
To galvanize action, leading Canadian experts working in the field of vascular health have signed and committed to a Vascular Declaration, a collective approach to reducing vascular disease in Canada.
"This Declaration calls for urgent action and outlines a comprehensive approach that can vastly decrease the impact of vascular disease on Canadians," says Dr. Duncan Stewart, the scientific chair of Vascular 2013. "The health sector cannot solve this problem alone."
Vascular diseases are a result of disorders in the blood vessels (large and small) throughout the entire human body. Diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, dementia, kidney diseases, certain lung and eye conditions are all vascular diseases.
Five unhealthy behaviors - unhealthy diet, smoking, lack of physical activity, excess alcohol intake and stress - are well-established risks for more than 50 diseases including these.
The declaration, called Making the Connection: A Call to Action on Vascular Health, calls for an integrated, multifaceted approach to address the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and end-of-life care for people with vascular disease.
It is a landmark approach to an urgent and debilitating health issue.
"We need to form a united front against this massive challenge to our society and economy," says Dr. Stewart, a practicing cardiologist who is also the CEO and scientific director of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, vice-president of research at The Ottawa Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. "Direct action is required at all levels to achieve meaningful impact on vascular health."
The Declaration calls on sectors across Canada to unite and take action
To all Canadians:
Make your health a priority. Adopt healthy behaviors. Advocate for healthy communities. Work with your health care provider to modify your vascular risk.
To health care practitioners:
Maximize inter-professional collaboration to comprehensively manage vascular risk and prevention. Keep up-to-date on, and follow best care practices. Collaborate with other sectors to advocate for and address legislative, social and built environment factors that impact population health.
To federal, provincial and municipal governments:
Commit to sustained action on vascular health by implementing effective public policies and regulations that foster healthy food, physical activity and smoke-free environments. Be inclusive of the needs, interests and abilities of specific populations within their local contexts and settings. Monitor the impact of public policies and regulations on health, economic productivity and chronic care costs.
To researchers and academia:
Develop approaches to address evidence gaps on vascular health issues. Foster the integration of knowledge across sectors, disciplines and conditions to impact vascular health through advocacy, programs and best practices.
For not-for-profit organizations:
Maximize impact through joint action. Align messaging and resources for the public on vascular risk and chronic disease management. Build partnerships for action on vascular health, advocate for healthy public policies and translate knowledge on vascular health into programs that improve the health of Canadians
For the private sector:
Ensure a healthier and more productive workforce through implementation of healthy workplace policies and programs. Build intersectoral partnerships to advocate for healthy public policies. Partner with the health system to support prevention and screening.
"By working together, we can leverage skills, innovations and knowledge to collaboratively act to reduce the burden of vascular disease in Canada," says Dr. Stewart.
Vascular diseases are the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Canada. Twenty four million Canadians have at least one risk factor for vascular disease and 10 million have three or more.
Canada's aging population, combined with alarming trends in obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and diabetes are expected to further increase the social and economic impact of vascular diseases in the coming decades, unless there are major changes in health policy.
"Risk factors for vascular disease can be managed by lifestyle behaviors," says Dr. Duncan. "For example, lifestyle changes and prevention or treatment of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure can prevent an estimated 54 per cent of Alzheimer's cases in North America."
Even more concerning is the increase in vascular risk factors among Canada's youth, and ethnically diverse populations.
Also alarming is the fact that between 1994 and 2005, rates of high blood pressure among Canadians aged 35-49 increased by 127 per cent, diabetes by 64 per cent and obesity by 20 per cent.
The declaration was created by health experts representing the Canadian Diabetes Association, Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Canadian Stroke Network, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Hypertension Canada.
Vascular 2013 is a one-time national congress for knowledge exchange and community building in vascular health, bringing together experts from multiple sectors and health disciplines to focus on and expand our understanding of vascular disease prevention and management.
To read Making the Connection: A Call to Action on Vascular Health, go to: www.vascular2013.ca.