EDMONTON - A study suggests Albertans are doing a better job of looking after their hearts.

Research done by the University of Alberta indicates that over the last 10 years, rates of cardiac procedures have either levelled off or declined.

Dr. Sean McMurtry, the study's lead author, says the concern a decade ago was that procedure numbers would rise and burden the health-care system, but the data have not borne that out.

The study has not pinpointed the reasons for the decline, but McMurtry says it's likely due to better technology and a lower prevalence of risk factors.

STORY CONTINUES AFTER GALLERY..

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  • Most Heart Attacks Begin With Mild Symptoms

    On TV and in movies, people having heart attacks are depicted as having severe, crushing chest pain. But according to the <a href="http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/signs.html">National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute</a>, many heart attack patients do not feel any chest pain at all. These heart attacks begin with mild pain or discomfort. This is more likely to occur in older people, women and those with diabetes.

  • Medicines Can Buy You Time During A Heart Attack

    According to the <a href="http://www.womenshealth.gov/heartattack/what-to-do.cfm?q=heart-attack-action-plan">Office on Women's Health</a>, if you're having a heart attack, chewing an aspirin (one normal or two baby aspirin) can reduce heart damage. Chewing the pill will help the aspirin enter your bloodstream faster. If you're at risk for a heart attack, you can also ask your doctor for nitroglycerin pills, which widen the arteries and will buy you more time to get to the hospital in an emergency. But remember, if you're experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, calling 9-1-1 should be your first priority!

  • Women Have Different Heart Attack Symptoms Than Men

    My friend <a href="http://marlothomas.aol.com/2011/01/14/barbra-streisands-latest-passion-womens-heart-health/">Barbra Streisand</a> has made it one of her life's missions to combat women's heart disease by fundraising for The Women's Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. When we spoke about women's heart disease last February, she stressed that the symptoms women feel before and during a heart attack can be vastly different than those that men feel. Instead of chest pain, many women feel chest pressure, indigestion, shortness of breath or fatigue.

  • Pregnant Women Are At An Increased Risk For Stroke

    The rate of stroke-related hospitalizations in pregnant women and women who have just given birth has grown as more women enter pregnancy with one or more risk factors. But according to the <a href="http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=WOMRISK">National Stroke Association</a>, even in a normal pregnancy, stroke risk is higher than normal. This is because of natural changes in the body, such as increased blood pressure and extra stress on the heart. That's why it's absolutely essential to maintain heart-healthy habits during pregnancy - you'll want to be in top physical condition when your baby is born after all.

  • Drinking Alcohol Can Affect Your Heart More Than You'd Think

    While it's obvious that drinking too much alcohol can be detrimental to your health, you may not be aware of what constitutes excessive drinking. <a href="http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Alcohol-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_305173_Article.jsp">The American Heart Association</a> recommends that men should not drink more than one to two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should not have more than one. Although some studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can actually be beneficial to heart health, drinking more than the recommended amount can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and obesity. Another reason to drink responsibly!

  • Sugar Is Bad News For Heart Health

    Put down that candy bar -- most Americans consume more sugar than they should, according to <a href="http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Sugars-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp">The American Heart Association</a>. High sugar intake should be avoided, as it has little nutritional value and contributes to diabetes, weight gain and other conditions that can ultimately affect heart health.

  • Women Are At Greater Risk For Heart Disease After Menopause

    As if menopause wasn't hard enough to get through, a woman's risk for heart disease increases after menopause due to a drop in estrogen production. Premenopausal women are protected from heart disease because their bodies produce HDL (good cholesterol), but after menopause these levels drop, according to the <a href="http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/UnderstandYourRiskforHighCholesterol/Women-and-Cholesterol_UCM_305565_Article.jsp">American Heart Association</a>. Make healthy lifestyle choices and do not use hormone therapy to combat heart disease - certain types can actually increase your risk for blood clots, heart disease and stroke.

  • Optimism Can Benefit Your Heart

    Maintaining your emotional health can be just as important as being physically healthy. Studies conducted by the <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/chronic-disease-prevention/happiness-stress-heart-disease/"> Harvard School of Public Health </a> have shown that those who handle stress well, are enthusiastic about life and are hopeful about the future seem to have a lower risk of heart disease. But don't beat yourself up if you're down in the dumps - instead, find out what helps you unwind and focus on enjoying the moment.

  • Waist Size Matters

    Belly fat is not just unsightly, it's downright dangerous. <a href="http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/health-tests-could-save-your-life?page=3#copy">Dr. Oz</a> states that an excess of fat in the waist area can lead to heart disease and a host of other health conditions. This is because the extra fat omits chemicals that cause inflammation and harm internal organs. Dr. Oz also reports that half of men and 70% of women between ages 50 and 79 in the U.S. have unhealthy waist sizes. You can focus on trimming your midsection by reducing stress (a major cause of belly fat), cutting carbs and exercising.

  • You Could Have Hidden Heart Disease

    Coronary microvascular syndrome is a form of heart disease that affects up to three million women in the United States and often does not show on standard angiograms, according the <a href="http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jan2006/nhlbi-31.htm">National Institutes of Health</a>. If your angiogram comes back clean, but you're still experiencing chest pain or other heart symptoms, don't be afraid to press the matter with your doctor. A series of simple tests can determine whether you suffer from this less obvious form of heart disease.

  • Sun Can Brighten Your Chances Of Avoiding Heart Disease

    Vitamin D, which can be acquired from soaking in sunlight and consuming foods like salmon and fortified cereals, helps the digestive system absorb calcium. This can prevent calcium deposits from blocking arteries. It is also thought to help strengthen heart contractions and control blood pressure. <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Heart_Letter/2009/December/vitamin-d-a-bright-spot-in-nutrition-research">Harvard Medical School</a> reports that 75% of adults with heart disease are deficient in Vitamin D. It's easy to load up on this health-boosting vitamin, so stock up on Vitamin D rich foods and make sure to spend some time in the sun every day.

The research also found that cardiac procedure rates in northern rural areas are consistently higher than the provincial average.

McMurtry says that's an opportunity for the health-care community to try to do a better job in these areas.

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  • 10. Tulsa, OK

    <em>Men's Health </em>ranked Tulsa, OK number 91 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 9. Cleveland, OH

    Men's Health ranked Cleveland, OH number 92 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 8. Buffalo, NY

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked Buffalo, NY number 93 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 7. Toledo, OH

    <em>Men's Health </em>ranked Toledo, OH number 94 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 6. Milwaukee, WI

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked Milwaukee, WI number 95 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 5. St. Louis, MO

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked St. Louis, MO number 96 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 4. Baltimore, MD

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked Baltimore, MD number 97 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 3. Charleston, WV

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked Charleston, WV number 98 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 2. Birmingham, AL

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked Birmingham, AL number 99 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • 1. Philadelphia, PA

    <em>Men's Health</em> ranked Philadelphia, PA number 100 out of their list of <a href="http://www.menshealth.com/best-life/coronary-capitals?cm_mmc=Huffington_Post-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals-_-Article-_-Metrogrades%20Coronay%20Capitals">100 cities with the best and worth heart health</a>.

  • Heart Health in Cold Weather

    Weatherman Flip Spiceland shows you why cold weather might increase your risk for heart troubles.

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