This Heart Health Awareness month the doctors at Family Doctors Plus encourage all members of the community to understand what promotes healthy heart function, and the steps you can take to achieve it.
Read on for some more information 👇🏼
Why should we care about heart health?
Unfortunately, heart disease is Australia’s biggest killer of men and women, with one in 10 people suffering a heart attack every 10 minutes. Often there are no warning signs before one, and it kills three times as many people than breast cancer. Fortunately, leading a healthy and active lifestyle can help save your life.
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease. This happens when the coronary arteries, which supply blood to your heart, narrow because of a build-up of plaque (not the teeth kind). Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, and other materials. The narrowed artery causes a reduced amount of blood flow to your heart muscle. There are other reasons people may have a heart attack, including when a coronary artery contracts (spasms) and narrows.
What are the risk factors of heart disease?
Common risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, being overweight or your medical and family history.
Tips for improving your heart health
- Move more, sit less. Any physical activity is better than no activity. Regular physical activity reduces your risk of heart disease or having a heart attack. Work your way up to 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) most days of the week. It is recommended you see your GP for a health check and any advice prior to starting an exercise plan.
- Quitting smoking if you smoke. As soon as you quit, your risk of stroke and heart attack decreases almost immediately. Reducing alcohol intake is also another positive lifestyle change.
- Have a healthy eating pattern. This includes avoiding unhealthy fats, salt, added sugar and concentrating on proteins, vegetables, wholegrains, fibre, antioxidants, beans, legumes, fish, nuts, and seeds. Eating too much saturated and trans fat can contribute to elevated blood cholesterol levels. Minimising salt intake is also linked to having better blood pressure.
Understand your cholesterol levels
If you are over 45 years old, or over 30 years old for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, see your doctor for a Heart Health Check, and to find out what your blood cholesterol levels are. This is a key step in learning how to control cholesterol and learn more about preventing heart disease and stroke.
GPs are here to help
The GPs are here to help with heart health checks and learning about your individual heart disease risk factors, including what your risk factors are for having a heart attack. Please feel free to make an appointment with one of the experienced GPs here.