On guard against heart attacks

A new law mandates that automated external defibrillators be installed in high-traffic public places across Manitoba. The task will be carried out through 2013. Statistics show that when these machines are used along with CPR, cardiac survival rates are at least 75 per cent higher. 

Because February is the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Heart Month, I am pleased to share information about the importance of heart health.

I am sure many of you know about ways to reduce risk factors that lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Examples include becoming more physically active, improving your diet and stopping smoking. Making these positive changes will provide significant health benefits at any age.

I recently read that according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, heart disease and stroke combined are the leading cause of death in our province. Annually, over 30 per cent of deaths in Manitoba are due to heart disease and stroke. Research shows that when a cardiac arrest occurs, using a defibrillator along with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can improve survival rates by 75 per cent or more beyond the survival rates when CPR is performed alone.

That is why I am delighted to report the Manitoba government has proclaimed The Defibrillator Public Access Act. The act requires automated external defibrillators (AEDs) be installed in high-traffic public places such as gyms, arenas, community centres, golf courses, schools and airports. This will happen throughout Manitoba over the next year.

AEDs detect irregular heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock to the heart if needed. These simple-to-use devices can make a life-saving difference during a medical emergency and it is reassuring to know they will now be available in more places. For more information on the defibrillator act and its regulations, visit http://www.Manitoba.ca/health/aed.

The Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat offer numerous initiatives that promote healthy living and heart health. Since 2007, Manitoba’s healthy aging strategy has engaged seniors in health promotion strategies across the province.  The strategy supports efforts to address the many aspects of healthy aging such as active living, social connectedness, healthy eating and falls prevention.

The Active Living Coalition of Older Adults in Manitoba (ALCOA-MB) is a key partner in Manitoba’s healthy aging strategy. Through the strategy, ALCOA-MB has been able to build capacity, engage older adults in health promotion strategies, promote healthy lifestyles by organizing an Active Aging Week and the Manitoba 55 Plus games, and working with age-friendly communities to promote healthy aging.

ALCOA-MB is a partnership of organizations and individuals that encourages older Manitobans to maintain and enhance their well-being through a lifestyle that embraces daily physical activities.  ALCOA-MB has over 50 partner organizations and over 120 peer leaders across Manitoba. For more information call ALCOA at 204-632-3947 in Winnipeg; toll free 1-866-202-6663.

Manitoba’s healthy aging strategy is a component of the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative. Age-friendly communities support older adults in leading active, socially engaged, independent lives that contribute to healthy aging. For example, Manitoba’s age-friendly communities are working at a local level to encourage healthy, active aging in their communities. For more information about the Age-Friendly Manitoba initiative, please contact the Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat at 1-800-665-6565 or go to http://www.gov.mb.ca/shas/ or the age-friendly website at http://www.agefriendlymanitoba.ca.
Visit the department’s website to discover the resources available such as the Health e-Plan (an online health assessment tool) and information about recreational trails, active living, healthy eating, smoking prevention and cessation. To find out more about healthy lifestyles go to: http://www.gov.mb.ca/healthyliving/hlp/index.html. You can also take the Heart & Stroke risk assessment to see if you are at risk for heart disease and stroke and how to take action to live a longer, fuller life.

There are many ways to celebrate heart health this month. For more information about living a heart healthy life, I encourage you to contact the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Manitoba at 204-949-2000 in Winnipeg or visit http://www.heart&stroke.mb.ca for special events in your community.

As always, I invite you to call the Seniors Information Line with any comments or questions at 204-945-6565 in Winnipeg; toll free 1-800-665-6565. You can also visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/healthyliving/index.html and click on the link for Manitoba Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat.

Hon. Jim Rondeau is Minister of Healthy Living,
Seniors and Consumer Affairs.

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