Cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes.
Thankfully, it's possible to significantly reduce your risk by making small lifestyle changes. Follow these tips to keep your heart healthy.
1. Prioritise your happiness
Studies have linked depression, stress and anxiety to heart disease and people who report living relaxed and happy lives tend to have a healthier heart. Science also confirms that laughter really is the best medicine, with its ability to expand blood vessels and stimulate blood flow, so be sure you’re getting your daily dose of giggles.
2. Exercise more
According to research from the World Health Organisation, almost one in three cases of coronary heart disease are caused by lack of physical exercise. It’s advised to get in at least 30 mins of moderate-intensity exercise a day, not only to maintain a healthy weight, but also to keep your heart strong. Exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are also great ways to promote heart health, while keeping you relaxed and energised.
3. Eat the right foods
Food is essential to the function of a healthy heart. Carrying excess weight puts excess strain on your heart, and can lead to a range of other illnesses. That’s why it’s important to limit your intake of salty and sugary foods, while eating a balanced diet incorporating a range of lean foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes. While saturated and trans fats found in fatty meat and junk food can contribute to heart issues, not all fats are bad. Good fats, found in foods like avocados, fish and nuts can stimulate heart function.
4. Cut back on alcohol
There is research to suggest one drink a day (especially of red wine) might be good for your heart, any more can be harmful for your heart and overall health. Avoid drinking too much and try to have at least two alcohol-free days per week to maintain a healthy heart function.
5. Get a good night's sleep
Research shows that people who don’t get enough shuteye are likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which puts strain on your cardio-vascular organs. To make sure your heart is getting the rest it needs, make sure you’re getting a solid 7-9 hours a night.
6. Keep your teeth clean
Many people don’t connect their dental health to their heart health. But there’s a strong link between poor dental care, gum disease and heart disease, which makes it essential to keep a clean mouth. Brushing your teeth twice a day can reduce risk of heart disease by 70 per cent, according to a study by the University College, London.
7. Know your numbers
There are plenty of factors influencing your heart health, which is why it’s important to have regular health checkups with your GP. By monitoring your blood pressure, cholesterol and waistline, you can detect problems and better deal with them as they arise.
8. Recognise the warning signs
Heart attacks are unpredictable, which is why it’s essential to be able to be able to recognise the signs. Some include: tightness or pain in the jaw, neck, chest, back or arms, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, or a feeling of indigestion. If you suspect you, or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 000.