It’s no secret that heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death and disease in Australia. The statistics are frightening, but the good news is you have more power to prevent heart disease than you think.
The National Heart Foundation acknowledges increasing age and a family history of heart disease as ‘non-modifiable risk factors,’ – risks we simply can’t control.
They also identify seven modifiable risk factors, risks that everyone can do something to prevent, manage or minimise. They are:
- Smoking - It may not be easy to QUIT, but many have done it before you in the name of good health. There’s a plethora of tools available to anyone willing to quit, but the biggest aid is just that – your own will. It’s never too late to stop smoking and the health benefits are immeasurable.
- High cholesterol – High blood cholesterol causes fatty build up in your blood vessels that may lead to heart attack or stroke. Regular cholesterol checks, a healthier diet with less saturated fats and some medications or natural supplements such as Lecithin may be used to help control cholesterol levels. Natural Life Lecithin is using non GMO soya beans that help to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
- High blood pressure – high blood pressure causes persistent over-exertion of the heart and blood vessels and can result in heart attack, stroke or heart failure. Managing your blood pressure with frequent checks from your doctor – especially as you age. Maintaining a stable healthy weight and being smoke-free will help, as will daily exercise, reduced alcohol intake and better dietary choices.
- Diabetes – Diabetes and heart disease are closely connected and together may result in heart attack, angina, or stroke. In the case of type 2 Diabetes, as with heart disease, risks and severity can be reduced through lifestyle choices. A healthy body weight, reduced fat, sugar, and alcohol intake, better eating habits and daily exercise can improve the condition and lower your risk.
- Physical Inactivity – Physical inactivity contributes to risk factors such as high blood pressure and being overweight. Regular exercise can improve blood pressure, bodyweight, mood and sleep patterns. Not everyone can run a marathon, but anyone can start with light exercise. Even a short walk every day will help, and over time, your fitness and your health will improve.
- Being overweight – Being overweight worsens risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. It’s vital to reach and maintain a healthy weight. An improved diet and regular exercise is the best and easiest step toward reducing this huge risk factor.
- Depression – The Heart Foundation notes a relationship between people suffering depression and social isolation with increased risk of heart disease. Talking about these issues with your health practitioner is important. Seeking assistance from foundations like Beyond Blue or The Black Dog Institute is free, anonymous and useful for anyone at risk.
While family history and age may be beyond your control, there are many ways you can take control of your health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Quit smoking, start exercising, change your diet and improve your heart health today!