It’s no big surprise to know that you rely on your heart. With every beat it keeps you alive, pumping blood around the body to provide fuel and oxygen to your muscles and organs. But, like all good partnerships, your heart relies on you to keep it strong and dependable.
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death of women in Australia? One in two women will be affected by heart disease during their lifetime – don’t be that one in two.
There are a number of risk factors we can’t do much about, such as our age, sex and family history; however, there are some risk factors that are within our power to change. Too much sitting, too little activity, being overweight, having high blood pressure, having high cholesterol or blood glucose levels, smoking and drinking excessive alcohol are all ‘lifestyle’ factors that we can do something about to reduce our chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
So it’s time to do something about this scary – yet little-known – fact.
Today we’ll delve into how to keep your heart healthy, and how to reduce your risk of heart disease. The hints and tips below are a starting point, for you to try out this week and hopefully start making into healthy habits. So take some time for you and your health today, and let’s get started with a little heart-to-heart.
Read on to learn more and watch the video below to hear a real-life account of heart disease and heart attack from a woman who has lived through it.
Many risk factors for heart disease can be reduced with positive lifestyle changes. Heart disease is preventable. Keep reading to find out what you can do.
Knowledge is power. Having regular health checks with your GP is an important first step. These can include checking your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Read more about health checks and how often you need them.
Be aware of the signs. Women may not experience the classic chest pain when having a heart attack. Instead, they may feel breathless, dizzy or sick, or have pain, tightness or discomfort in their arm, back or jaw.
Seek help early. Women often wait too long to seek help because they think they are not at risk of heart attack and don’t recognise the signs. Together, let’s change that and work towards preventing heart disease from happening in the first place.
Your diet is one key. Fruits, vegetables and fish form the basis of a heart-healthy diet. Aim to eat 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fresh fruit a day, as well as 2 serves of fish a week.
Eat your way through the Mediterranean. No, we don’t mean feasting on pasta and pizza! Learn how to follow the Mediterranean diet the right way – it could reduce your risk of heart disease by 30%.
Snacks with benefits. Research has also found that a handful of nuts a day, as part of a healthy diet, can reduce your risk of heart disease. Go for almonds or walnuts. Keep a jar on hand at work and at home.
Movement matters. Did you know that too much sitting – also known as sedentary behaviour – may increase the risk of heart attack? That’s because human beings are designed to move! Coming up later in the week we’ll help you to create an action plan to increase your physical activity and decrease the time you spend sitting throughout the day.
Smoking is for suckers. When it comes to heart health, there are no winners if you smoke. If you are having trouble quitting, seek help from your doctor, the Quit website or Quitline on 13 7848.
For the love of dog. According to numerous studies, having a four-legged friend is often associated with also having lower blood pressure, healthier blood-fat profiles, being more physically active and being a healthier weight. So your heart loves your pet in more ways than one!
Reach out. Research shows that depression and loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease. Share your worries and lighten your heavy heart with friends and family, and get advice from your health professional.
Get a daily dose of humour. Laughing every day and having an active sense of humour has heart-healthy benefits. Studies show it may protect you against heart attack and reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, a good belly laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through your body.
It’s important to set achievable goals for yourself, as feeling discouraged from falling short of a goal can set you back even further. Maybe try one of these today:
Your journey to a healthier you and happier heart starts today.
Choose a couple of these hints and tips and start to use them this week and beyond (of course if you’re feeling extra-enthusiastic, try out more than just one or two!).
The focus of this year’s Women’s Health Week is to put your own good health first. So what are you waiting for?
Read more about heart health on the page below. Then flip to page 7 to download your exclusive limited edition illustration by Australian artist Belinda Suzette.
Want to know the size of your heart? Clasp your hands together and there you have it!
Women’s hearts, on average, are two thirds of the size of men’s hearts. But being smaller makes them mightier: on average they beat faster than men’s hearts by 8 beats a minute.
Your heart beats more than 100,000 times a day. And across an average lifespan, will beat more than 3 billion times.
‘Hearty’ vegetable, soy bean & barley minestrone
This delicious Mediterranean-inspired soup is a bowlful of goodness for both your heart and soul.
Visit the Jean Hailes Kitchen for delicious recipes with real health benefits.Browse the recipes
The Jean Hailes website has lots more information on heart health and how to keep yours happy and healthy.Read more
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