The information below is courtesy of the Heart Foundation. Visit the Heart Foundation website for more information.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels, including the following:
- Arrhythmias – abnormal heart rhythm
- Coronary Heart Disease – occurs when your coronary arteries get narrower and reduce the blood flow to the heart.
- Angina – pain or discomfort that happens when your heart can’t get enough blood and oxygen.
- Heart Attack – occurs when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart.
- Heart Failure – when your heart muscle gets damaged, becomes weak and doesn’t pump properly. Once your heart is damaged, it can’t heal.
- Rheumatic Heart Disease– If you have acute rheumatic fever and it’s not treated, it can lead to rheumatic heart disease.
- Stroke – There are 2 types of stroke: ischaemic stroke and haemorrhagic stroke.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Risks that you can’t do much about:
- Age: As you get older, your risk of heart disease increases.
- Gender: Men are at higher risk of heart disease. Women’s risk grows and may be equal to men after menopause.
- Ethnic background: People of some origins (e.g. from the Indian sub-continent) have higher risk. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have more risk because of lifestyle factors.
- Family history: If someone in your family has had a heart attack, speak to your doctor about your risk.
Risks that you can reduce:
Heart Disease Prevention
- Exercise regularly – Aim to do at least half an hour of moderate exercise daily (walk, jog, run, ride, gym, yoga, Pilates), sit less during the day
- Eat a healthy diet – Eat more fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains; less meat, dairy, junk food and alcohol. Reduce your intake of salt, sugar and saturated and trans fats. Drink plenty of water.
- Quit smoking
The Heart Foundation strongly recommend having a heart health check if you’re over 45 years old, and over 35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.