CVD refers to all diseases and conditions involving the heart and blood vessels, with coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure/cardiomyopathy being the most common. With 43,477 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2017, it’s a major cause of death in Australia and the prevalence increases with age. While 35 percent of Australians aged 55-64 report a long-term CVD condition, this figure increases to 66 percent for Australians aged 75 and over.
The Heart Foundation offers the following tips to keep your heart healthy:
Being a non-smoker is one of the best things you can do to keep your heart healthy. If you’re looking to quit smoking, Quit Now has a range of resources to help.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine is great for your heart health. While any activity is better than none, the Heart Foundation suggests aiming to be active on most, preferably all, days every week. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity or vigorous intensity physical activity each week and add in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days each week.
Heart-healthy eating doesn’t rely on you depriving yourself or feeling like you have to add all the latest ‘superfoods’ to your shopping list. Instead, choose a wide variety of foods with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and foods rich in wholegrains, fibre, unsaturated fats and antioxidants. For recipes and tips, visit heartfoundation.org.au/ healthy-eating.
Eating healthily and maintaining physical activity will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. To keep your weight in the healthy range, The Heart Foundation recommends you keep an eye on your Body Mass Index as well as your waist circumference. A BMI between 18 and 24 is normal and over 25 is overweight. For waist circumference, aim for a measurement below 94cm for men and below 80cm for women.
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are clinical risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Both can be managed with healthy lifestyle and medication if needed.
People who have depression, are socially isolated or do not have good social support can be at greater risk of heart disease. So, looking after your mental health, maintaining an active social life and staying connected to family and friends can help. If you need information on depression, visit Beyond Blue.