Important information about COVID-19

Looking to get a COVID-19 immunization? Find a participating pharmacy near you.


For updates on travel restrictions, virtual care or prescriptions drugs, click here.

This page is for informational purposes only. If you are experiencing a health emergency, please seek medical attention.

Heart disease

Understanding and taking care of heart health is important for us all, and each small step towards healthier living can make a big difference. Learning about heart health and the ways you can reduce the risk of heart disease can help you to prevent or delay heart-related problems for yourself or a loved one. If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, connecting to local health care professionals, programs and supports can also be important for maintaining your health so you can continue to thrive.

We are here to help support your journey with trusted information about heart disease, public resources for promoting heart health and managing a heart condition. We'll also share how your Alberta Blue Cross® benefits can support you.

Please be aware, this website is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately or visit the emergency room.

Understanding and taking care of heart health is important for us all, and each small step towards healthier living can make a big difference. Learning about heart health and the ways you can reduce the risk of heart disease can help you to prevent or delay heart-related problems for yourself or a loved one. If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, connecting to local health care professionals, programs and supports can also be important for maintaining your health so you can continue to thrive.

We are here to help support your journey with trusted information about heart disease, public resources for promoting heart health and managing a heart condition. We'll also share how your Alberta Blue Cross® benefits can support you.

Please be aware, this website is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately or visit the emergency room.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease can present in many ways. Some forms of heart disease can be present when you are born, while other forms might develop as you grow older. With a variety of root causes, heart disease cannot be defined as just one condition. The Heart and Stroke Foundation describes heart disease as any condition that affects the structure or function of the heart, and results in the heart not working as it should.1

A common, early sign of heart disease is hypertension or high blood pressure. This occurs when there is too much pressure in your blood vessels and your heart must work harder than normal causing it to become strained. Sometimes high blood pressure can happen without symptoms and might only be discovered after a heart attack. It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by your health care provider as part of your overall lifestyle management.

The most common type of heart disease is called coronary artery disease, which is when the arteries that bring blood to the heart (the coronary arteries) are narrowed or blocked. This can lead to chest pain, heart attacks or stroke (blockages in the brain).

Other types of heart diseases include congestive heart failure, irregular heart rhythms and congenital heart disease.

Click here to learn more about the different types of heart diseases and conditions.

Heart health for women

For women, the experience of heart disease can be different than what might come to mind. This is because treatment and information shared about heart disease has historically been focused on men. As a result, many women are under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Click here to learn about the specific risk factors and how to recognize the unique warning signs of a health event for women.

There are many different signs and symptoms of a heart attack which can be different for men and women.

Remember, always call 911 immediately if you are experiencing symptoms and seek medical support.

Click here to learn what emergency signs to watch for.

9 in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease.2

Almost 80% of premature heart disease can be prevented through healthy behaviours.3

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada.4

How can I reduce my risk of developing heart disease?

There are many factors that contribute to heart disease. Some risk factors for developing heart disease cannot be changed, such as your family history, genetics or your age. However, there are many small steps one can take related to lifestyle that can help to prevent or delay heart disease.

Common risk factors linked to heart disease that can be improved or managed

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol or other fats in the blood.
  • Diabetes.
  • Unhealthy diet (high in fat, salt and processed foods).
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Smoking.
  • Unmanaged stress.
  • Body weight that impacts quality of life.
  • Excessive alcohol and drug abuse.

Making these small, positive changes to your routine can be the first step you take in improving your heart health.

1

Healthier
eating.

Healthy eating | Heart and Stroke

Heart healthy eating habits can play a major role in preventing and managing chronic disease.

2

Moving
more.

Stay active | Heart and Stroke

Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your heart and your overall health.

3

Quitting
smoking.

Alberta Quits

According to the Heart and Stroke foundation, within 24 hours of quitting, your chances of having a heart attack decreases.5

4

Reducing alcohol intake.

Alcohol use | Heart and Stroke

Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease.

5

Managing and reducing stress.

Stress | Heart and Stroke

Stress can increase your risk of heart disease. Use the tools from Heart and Stroke to help recognize and handle stress.

6

Maintaining your blood pressure.

High blood pressure | Heart and Stroke

Learn how to keep your blood pressure in check.

Don't forget you don't have to do this alone. There is support available. Talk to your family doctor to identify your heart health goals and discuss manageable ways to achieve them.

Click here to learn more about lifestyle management and find resources to support your wellness.

Take control of your heart health with a personal action plan

Learn more about how to make realistic lifestyle changes with the following tool:

Take control | Heart and Stroke

Assess your heart health

The information provided here is not a substitute for professional advice. If you feel you may need advice, please consult a qualified health care professional.

As problems with your heart health can go unnoticed until an emergency, understanding your risk can help reduce your likelihood of a heart event. Assess your risk, or the risk of a loved one, by calculating your cardiovascular age with the following tool.

MyHealthCheckup

Are you an Alberta Blue Cross® member?

Try Balance®, our online wellness program, which includes a Health Risk Assessment that gives you a snapshot of your overall health and helps you understand the health areas you may be at risk for, including heart disease.

Go to Balance®

How can I manage heart disease?

Heart disease management may involve a combination of methods—ranging from living a healthy lifestyle to treatments which include, but are not limited to medications, surgery or procedures.

Heart disease should ideally be managed with your health care team, which can include your family doctor, a nurse, a heart specialist or community pharmacist. If you have been prescribed a medication or referred for a test of your heart function, learn more about treatments here.

What services and resources are available to help me prevent and manage heart disease?

Connecting to different services and resources can support you on your heart health journey and guide you in managing life with heart disease. Like many chronic conditions, a health care team is an important resource to reach out to for support. Connecting to others who might understand what you are going through can also benefit you.

Public resources

Find a doctor | Primary Care Network

Having a family doctor can assist you in providing ongoing management and support.

Alberta Healthy Living Program | Alberta Health Services

The Alberta Healthy Living Program provides workshops and education sessions led by various health care professionals for those over the age of 18.

Workshops | Primary Care Networks

Primary Care Networks offer a range of classes and workshops focusing on heart health, weight management and physical activity.

The power of community | Heart and Stroke

Stay connected through online peer support.

Alberta blue cross® member resources

Health look-up tool for professional services

Easily access our health look-up tool through our member site or app to determine what benefits are available to you on your plan.

Drug look-up tool for prescriptions

Available on the member site or app—the drug look-up tool helps you determine what drug coverage is available to you on your plan.

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback

A woman doing yoga by a window with candles.

February is all about the heart, literally.

It’s Heart Month in Canada, which means it’s a time to bring attention to the importance of heart health and what you can do to reduce the risk of...

Read more on the blog
A group of women of various ages and race sit together smiling at the camera.

Closing the gap in women’s health research: Women aren’t just smaller men

Many health issues affect women differently than men—including heart disease, strokes and stress—yet their conditions continue to go undiagnosed or...

Read more on the blog

All information, content, and material contained on this website (including links to other third-party websites) is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice on any subject matter, or for any individual case or situation. Nothing on this website is intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional, and you should not act, or refrain from acting, on the basis of any content included on this website. If you require medical advice, you are advised to consult a qualified medical professional.

[1] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Types of Heart Disease. Available at: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/what-is-heart-disease/types-of-heart-disease.

[2] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Risk and Prevention. Available at:https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/risk-and-prevention.

[3] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Risk and Prevention. Available at: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/risk-and-prevention.

[4] Alberta Health Services. Cardiovascular Disease. Available at: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/ Page7735.aspx.

[5] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Smoking and tobacco. Available from: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/risk-and-prevention/lifestyle-risk-factors/smoking-and-tobacco.