TORONTO - Canada faces a "perfect storm" of heart disease, with younger adults at increased risk of earlier onset of heart disease and the huge baby boom generation approaching their senior years, the Heart and Stroke Foundation warned Monday.
In its annual report card on the heart health of Canadians, the organization said the looming phenomenon will place an unprecedented burden on Canada's cardiovascular care system.
It's a situation governments can no longer afford to ignore, said Stephen Samis, the foundation's director of health policy.
"For a number of provinces, over 40 per cent and moving towards 50 per cent of provincial budgets are now focused on health care after we become sick," he said at a news conference.
"And we have to turn that and start to focus on the things that will keep us healthy and out of the health-care system if we hope to fund anything else down the road."
The organization said inactivity and rising obesity rates are afflicting young adults aged 20 to 39, a group the foundation said it now considers at risk for heart disease.
"The face of heart disease is changing. So if you're young, you're not immune to it in the long run," said Toronto cardiologist Dr. Beth Abramson, who is a spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Abramson said she now sees younger patients who either have some of the risk factors of heart disease - Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure - or heart disease itself.
"This is something we would never have expected 15 years ago. And we will see as a society a convergence of the elderly and the young and other populations at risk creating a storm of cardiovascular disease," she said.
"Most of this is preventable."
Abramson said among young women, more than 50 per cent lead an inactive lifestyle and about a quarter are smokers.
"This is a risk factor recipe for disaster," she said.
The group said that while there are national strategies aimed at combating cancer, lung disease and diabetes, an action plan for reducing the toll of heart disease in the country hasn't yet received federal funding.