It is estimated that 1.2 million Australians have one or more conditions related to heart or vascular disease, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey that was undertaken in 2017-18. That’s a staggering number. It doesn’t have to be this way – there are small (but mighty) steps that you can take every day to minimise your risk of developing heart disease.
Take control of your vices
We know that you know – but we have to say it anyway. Drinking and smoking are the first things that need to go when it comes to minimising your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, if you smoke, you are four times more likely to die of heart disease, and three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac disease. The Heart Foundation advises that if you do drink alcohol, that consumption is limited to no more than two standard drinks per day. To keep your ticker ticking well into the future, it’s time to say farewell to unhealthy habits.
A healthy, balanced diet is critical to maintaining the health of your heart. Make a conscious effort every day to nourish your body with whole, minimally processed foods – fruits, vegetables, lean protein and importantly, wholegrains. Of course, a little treat every now and then is fine, as long as you make mostly healthy choices.
Shed the excess baggage
If getting on the scales makes you sweat, or your belt is getting a little tight around the mid-section, it’s time to take action. Carrying excess weight, and living an inactive lifestyle are two key factors that can see you develop heart disease. Both factors also increase your risk of developing other lifestyle diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. The Australian Department of Health recommends that individuals accumulate between 150 – 300 minutes (or 2 ½ – 5 hours) moderate intensity physical activity each week. Alternatively, 75 – 150 minutes (or 1 ¼ – 2 ½ hours) of high intensity physical activity each week will also do the trick. Moving more, and making conscious choices when it comes to how you fuel your body can make a big difference when it comes to your waistline (and importantly, the health of your heart).
The Heart Foundation suggests that you should aim for a waist circumference of no more than 94cm for men, and 80cm for women.
Play the long game
Consistency is key when it comes to reducing your heart disease risk factors. Make slow, gradual changes that work with your lifestyle, so that you can keep them up well into the future. You heart will thank you for it.
Intended as general advice only. Consult your health care provider to discuss any specific concerns.