Article. Heart health and cholesterol levels of Canadians, 2007 to Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no X Health Fact Sheets

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1 Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no X Health Fact Sheets Article Heart health and cholesterol levels of Canadians, 2007 to 2009 March

2 How to obtain more information For information about this product or the wide range of services and data available from Statistics Canada, visit our website at us at or telephone us, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the following numbers: Statistics Canada s National Contact Centre Toll-free telephone (Canada and United States): Inquiries line National telecommunications device for the hearing impaired Fax line Local or international calls: Inquiries line Fax line Depository Services Program Inquiries line Fax line To access this product This product, Catalogue no X, is available free in electronic format. To obtain a single issue, visit our website at and browse by Key resource > Publications. Standards of service to the public Statistics Canada is committed to serving its clients in a prompt, reliable and courteous manner. To this end, Statistics Canada has developed standards of service that its employees observe. To obtain a copy of these service standards, please contact Statistics Canada toll-free at The service standards are also published on under About us > The agency > Providing services to Canadians. HTML version published: March PDF version published: September 2010.

3 Heart health and cholesterol levels of Canadians, 2007 to 2009 Over 40% of Canadians aged 20 to 79 have an unhealthy level of total cholesterol and about 25% have an unhealthy level of triglycerides. Lipids are a class of fats, or fat-like substances, which includes cholesterol and triglycerides. Cholesterol is vital for our body but there are two types, good and bad. Good cholesterol, called high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (or HDL cholesterol), helps to prevent the narrowing of artery walls by removing and transporting any excess to the liver for excretion. Bad cholesterol, called low density lipoproteincholesterol (or LDL cholesterol), carries cholesterol for cell-building needs but leaves behind any excess on the walls of the arteries. Bad cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Lowering this type of cholesterol reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and the necessity for heart bypass surgery. High triglyceride levels increase the tendency of the blood to clot. The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) tested the blood samples of participants for a number of lipids: total cholesterol, triglycerides, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol and the ratio of total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (TC/HDL-C). The healthy levels for lipids, suggested by current evidence, are outlined in Table 1. Monitoring lipids for the management of abnormal levels and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases is particularly important for men over 40 years of age and women who are menopausal or over 50 years of age. Lipid monitoring is also important for people with diabetes and atherosclerosis, or for those who have risk factors such as smoking, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and a strong family history of premature cardiovascular diseases. High bad cholesterol can be prevented through physical activity, healthy diet and not smoking. A lipidlowering therapy might be recommended to normalize the cholesterol level of people with specific conditions (including atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity) or for anyone with high, moderate or even low risk of cardiovascular diseases. Table 1 - Healthy levels of lipids in blood Total cholesterol Triglycerides < 1.7 mmol/l 1 Low density lipoprotein-cholesterol LDL, bad cholesterol High density lipoprotein-cholesterol HDL, good cholesterol Ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (TC/HDL-C ) < 4.5 mmol/l (6 to 19 years) 1 < 5.2 mmol/l (20 to 79 years) 1 < 3.4 mmol/l 2 > 1.0 mmol/l men 1 > 1.3 mmol/l women 1 < Based on recommendations from the CHMS Physician Advisory Committee 2 Based on recommendations from the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program Results Among Canadians aged 20 to 79, over 40% have a high total cholesterol level (Chart 1), with no substantial gender differences. High total cholesterol and triglycerides levels increase with age. Unhealthy levels of bad cholesterol generally increase with age, but peaked in the 40 to 59 year age group, where about 43% of Canadians registered unhealthy levels. About 30% of Canadians aged 20 to 79 have low levels of good cholesterol, with no substantial difference between age groups (Chart 2).

4 Chart 1 Percentage of Canadian adults with unhealthy levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, by age group Note: All data presented are from fasting respondents and do not account for the impact of lipid adjusting therapy.

5 Chart 2 Percentage of Canadian adults with unhealthy levels of good and bad cholesterol, by age group Note: All data presented are from fasting respondents and do not account for the impact of lipid adjusting therapy. Lipid levels among Canadian children and youth Most Canadian children and youth aged 6 to 19 have normal triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels, with no substantial gender differences (Table 2). However, a relatively lower percentage of children and youth have levels of total cholesterol within normal ranges. Table 2 - Percentage of Canadian children and youth with lipids within normal ranges, by sex Lipid Age Group 6 to to 19 Males Females Males Females Total cholesterol Triglycerides Low density lipoprotein-cholesterol LDL, bad cholesterol Ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (TC/HDL-C ) Note: All data presented are from fasting respondents and do not account for the impact of lipid adjusting therapy.

6 High lipids and health About 36% of Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 who don t have a healthy level of good cholesterol are obese; by comparison, only about 16% of those with a healthy level of good cholesterol are obese (Table 3). Generally, unhealthy levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol are associated with higher measured hypertension. CHMS results also show that Canadian adults who do not meet healthy levels of triglycerides and good cholesterol seem to have a higher incidence of self-reported heart disease. Table 3 - Lipid levels and obesity, measured hypertension and heart disease of Canadian adults Lipid Total cholesterol Triglycerides Low density lipoproteincholesterol LDL, bad cholesterol High density lipoproteincholesterol HDL, good cholesterol Ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (TC/HDL-C ) Have healthy levels Yes/ No % who are obese % with measured hypertension* ( 140 systolic or 90 diastolic) yes E no E yes E 3.6 no E 6.2 E yes E no E 2.7 E yes E no E 7.0 E yes E no E 3.8 E % with selfreported heart disease E Use with caution (data with a coefficient of variation from 16.6% to 33.3%) * The data presented are based on measured hypertension and do not account for the impact of medication. Note: All data presented are from fasting respondents and do not account for the impact of lipid adjusting therapy. Further information on the physical health measures from the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007 to 2009 is available at

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