WeCare Medical Group follows COVID safe practices
WeCare Medical Group follows COVID safe practices

Heart Health

Your heart beats about 100,000 times in one day, and 35 million in a year. It is one of the most important organs in your body, and it is essential that you understand the basic components of heart health and what you should be doing to give this amazing organ everything it needs to last. 

Because the heart works with the cardiovascular system to provide essential nutrients and energy to every other organ in the body, any issues with the heart are not to be taken lightly. The heart is often ‘out of sight, out of mind’, so many people don’t realise what they should be doing to check in on their heart. But with one in six Australians living with cardiovascular disease, this is not something to ignore. 

 

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that refers to a group of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. This can commonly include stroke, blood clots and heart failure. It is a leading health concern to address both globally and in Australia.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill 1 in 4 Australians, or 1 person every 12 minutes. The good news is that the deaths are declining as people learn to take better care of their hearts, and as medical research and treatment improves.

The other good news is that lifestyle factors can improve and maintain your heart health. 

 

Risk factors

Cholesterol

Cholesterol isn’t inherently bad or good. It is a fatty substance produced in the body that is used to perform essential functions such as building cells. Cholesterol is made naturally in the liver, but it is also found in foods such as animal products. Additionally, some fats in food, such as trans fats and saturated fats, increase the liver’s production of cholesterol. Developing high cholesterol can then be a concern for your heart health. When you have high levels of cholesterol, it can cause atherosclerosis. This is where fatty deposits settle into your arteries, narrowing them and making it harder for blood to pass through them. This can increase risk of heart disease and stroke. 

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps blood through them. It will naturally vary throughout the day and as you perform different activities, but it becomes worrying if it is too high or too low. A healthy blood pressure is generally stated to be close to 120/80, and this is what doctors will often look for with a blood pressure cuff at your regular check up. When blood pressure is frequently too high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension – and this is a primary risk for heart disease. High blood pressure can cause damage to the arteries, heart and brain. It may be influenced by genetic factors, but lifestyle also plays a large part. Doctors can help you to control your blood pressure and can prescribe medicine if needed.

Unhealthy Lifestyle Factors

Living an unhealthy lifestyle, including inactivity, smoking and drinking alcohol increases your risk of experiencing heart disease. Doctors are trained in helping people to change their habits, so if you are concerned about your lifestyle there is nothing to be ashamed of. A GP can help you to make healthier choices and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. 

Diet

While an unhealthy diet can lead to a variety of health concerns including excess weight and high cholesterol, eating a healthy diet can actually reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The average Australian eats less than half their recommended intake of vegetables. Eating the full serve daily can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 16%. 

 

What can I do to help protect my heart?

Eat a healthy diet

As we mentioned above, an unhealthy diet is a risk factor, but it can also be a great way to reduce your risks. Eating well is age old advice that you have probably heard plenty of times, but it really is true. What we eat has a huge effect on our heart health and eating poorly can even cause certain heart diseases. It’s good to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid saturated fats, eat less sodium (salt) and make sure you are getting enough nutrients. If you aren’t sure whether your diet is healthy, you can chat to your GP about it. They can refer you to our in-house dietician or a nutritionist of your choice, who can support you in putting together a healthy meal plan. 

Exercise

Strength building and aerobic exercise are the two best kinds of exercise to do for heart health. Strength building can help to improve body composition as well as lowering cholesterol. Aerobic exercise is helpful for cardiac conditioning, and it improves your blood’s ability to pump blood well and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Not only does it reduce risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but it is a great way to improve your overall health and reduce stress. A 30 minute walk 5 times a week is enough to improve your health.

Get a heart health check with a GP

Adults in Australia aged 45 or above, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged above 30, are eligible for an annual heart health check at their GP. 

This is a 20 minute appointment to assess risk factors for cardiovascular disease, identify risk levels and then develop strategies to manage that risk. It can be claimed with a medicare rebate.

These heart health checks are estimated to prevent 76,500 cardiovascular disease events – including heart attacks – over the next 5 years. 

 

How can WeCare help?

Our caring and knowledgeable GPs are trained to assess cardiovascular risk factors and help patients to manage their cardiovascular health. We are able to help build healthy habits and provide support to optimise your health. We recognise how many cardiovascular diseases are preventable and are passionate about reducing this risk.

We’re able to:

  • Complete a heart health check

We ask you questions, check your blood pressure and assess your risks for cardiovascular disease, as well as putting together a plan to make sure you’re in the best health possible. 

  • Advise you on ways to change your life and improve your habits
  • Prescribe any medication that might help or recommend complementary therapies such as an exercise physiologist or a dietician
  • Check in with you regularly to see how you’re progressing and whether you need more help. 

 

Please book an appointment and make sure your cardiovascular health is in check today. 

 

Disclaimer

All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.