Boost your heart health

Paying attention to your heart can make the difference between life and death.

Many women are familiar with the warning signs of a heart attack that are typically experienced by a man such as crushing chest pain. Though in women, the warning signs can show up quite differently.

Women are more likely to experience fatigue, breathlessness, and pain between the shoulder blades. Nausea or vomiting is also more common in women. Because the signs can be more subtle when women take action to get help it is often too little, too late. They may present late, be less likely to get the required investigations, and slower to begin taking preventative steps. That can impact their recovery after a heart attack. Women are twice as likely to die a year after having a heart attack.

The causes of heart disease are also changing. Smoking rates have fallen but cardiometabolic health has worsened. Our lifestyles make us more prone to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and a sedentary way of living.

If recent headlines have you worried, below are four ways to show your heart a little more love.

1) Schedule a heart check

Over 45 years you’re eligible for a Medicare-funded heart health check with a GP. Your GP will run the ruler over your medical history, family history, lifestyle factors, check blood pressure, and do a blood test. From that information – and possibly other tests such as an electrocardiogram and calcium score – they can calculate your risk of having a heart attack in the next five years. If you’re high risk your doctor may recommend medication. Those who are lower risk can help their heart health by modifying their lifestyle.

2) Stop smoking

You only have a look at a cigarette packet to see the impact they have on your blood vessels. Smoking narrows and clogs blood vessels which has the effect of reducing blood supply and oxygen throughout the body. Statistics show the impact smoking can have on the health of your heart.  People who smoke are four times more likely to die of heart disease and three times more likely to die of a heart attack.

3) Get active

Regular exercise has great benefits for your ticker. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and helps reduce stress. About half of the people with high blood pressure are unaware and half of those who are aware are undertreated. Plus, upping your activity levels can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and keep your weight in check. Starting can be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other with a walking buddy or group.

4) Think nutritious and delicious

A healthier eating regime can begin with some quick food fixes. Cut down the salt, ditch the soft drinks and add more fruit and vegetables to your diet.

Your heart will thank you.

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