Let’s have a heart to heart…

Heart disease takes one person every 12 minutes in Australia.

Heart attacks don’t just happen to men. Women get them too! In fact, cardiovascular diseases including stroke, coronary artery disease and heart failure remain the number one killer of Australian women.

The heart is an incredible organ, beating several thousand times a day and pumping nutrients throughout the body. But, to do its job efficiently, it has to be healthy. Anything that puts stress on the heart muscle impacts the rest of our body. For example, we know that excess weight gain can lead to other health problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Those conditions can eventually lead to heart disease.

Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors for heart disease and some tips to keep your heart pumping for those you love.

Genes

If a family member has had a heart attack, particularly between the ages of 55-65, you may have a higher risk of heart disease. A family history of high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure also increases your risk.

Look after your heart by…

Checking your family history to find out if you’re at higher risk and make sure your GP is aware of any genetic conditions. It’s also a good idea to get a yearly health check to ensure your cholesterol and blood pressure are within range.

Depression

People with depression are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack. Why? Depression triggers inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that create inflammation which can damage the lining of your heart’s blood vessel walls.

Look after your heart by…

Reaching out to family members, your GP or a counsellor for support and coping strategies.

 

Poor Diet

A poor diet is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease in Australia. Australians of all ages generally do not eat enough of the five healthy food groups and eat too many junk foods high in salt, fat and sugar. What you eat and drink impacts on several heart disease risk factors like your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

Look after your heart by…

Following a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and healthy fats, while being low in discretionary processed snacks, sugary drinks and alcohol is the best way to look after your heart. Adding in foods to promote heart health is also important – think about avocadoes, olive oil, oily fish, nuts, grainy bread, legumes and a colourful range of fruits and vegetables to tick all the nutritional boxes.

Excess Salt

You need some salt for good health, but most people eat too much. Australians now eat more salt than ever before. Eating too much salt may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Look after your heart by…

Trimming your salt intake can be easily done. Try eating mostly fresh food instead of processed food with added salt, ditch the salt shaker and add herbs/spices to cooking instead.

Stress

In highly stressful situations, our body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is your body’s “fight or flight” response to stress, shutting down other parts of the body while we respond to the stressor. Studies show women are more prone to chronic stress and long-term exposure to stressful situations which can place you and your heart at high risk for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Look after your heart by…

Taking some time out for yourself, keep connected with friends and family, perhaps try activities like meditation to help manage your stress levels.

Excess weight

Once you enter the overweight range on the BMI scale, you will be at higher risk of a whole host of serious medical conditions and lifestyle diseases. In particular cardiovascular disease.

Look after your heart by…

Watching your weight. If you’re in an unhealthy weight range, losing weight can help to reduce blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Movement

Moderate physical activity on most days of the week helps to manage your weight, control your blood glucose levels and to ensure healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Look after your heart by…

Experimenting with exercise you enjoy and can sustain for the long term. Aim to incorporate some form of movement each day. It could be going for a walk at lunchtime, some stretching, weights or Pilates. Find what works for you and what you enjoy doing so you stick to it.

 

World Heart Day 2021

The heart is the only organ you can hear and feel. It is the first and last sign of life. It is one of the few things with the potential to unite all of us as people. Beating cardiovascular disease is the ultimate purpose of the World Heart Federation and all affiliated associations. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. That is a cause we can all get behind.

 

The single most important dietary change you can make to be healthier is to eat five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit each day. But it can be hard, which is why Lite n’ Easy’s complete meal solutions are the way to go. You’ll get to eat the right foods in the right portions throughout the day and get your daily 5+2 simply by enjoying our complete solution with a huge range of delicious meals. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to order now.

 

Larissa Robbins is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition & Dietetics) from Queensland University of Technology.  She has extensive experience working across Australia and the UK in the food industry, corporate health, hospitals and private practice. Larissa has been working as a dietitian since 2011, and plays a key role in nutrition training and development at Lite n’ Easy.