The statistics don’t paint a pretty picture. Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia. In 2015 it accounted for 14% of deaths in males (and 11% in females). At the age of 40, one in two men is at risk of developing coronary heart disease in their lifetime.
The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to reduce this risk and avoid being a statistic.
The first step to reducing your risk is to know your risk factors. While there are a few you can’t change, such as age, being male, your ethnic background and family history, there are also plenty that you can change. These include smoking, being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, having high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, suffering from depression and being socially isolated.
So what can you do to reduce your risk?
- If you smoke, quit. If you need help to do this, speak with your doctor or call the Quitline on 13 7848.
- Eat a healthy diet, based mainly on plant foods including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and nuts, and avoid processed foods high in saturated fat and added sugars.
- Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes each day and reduce your sedentary time by looking for opportunities to move more throughout your day and breaking up your sitting time regularly.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight by balancing healthy eating and regular exercise.
- Manage your cholesterol levels and blood pressure – this can be through lifestyle changes, with the addition of medication where needed.
- If you have diabetes, keep it well managed. High blood glucose levels can contribute to heart disease risk.
- Be socially active and if you are suffering from depression, speak with your doctor about treatment options.
If you are over 45 years (or over 35 years if you are from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background), the Heart Foundation recommend seeing your doctor for a heart health check.
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