10 steps to protect your heart health
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10 steps to protect your heart health

Ready to help your heart keep on beating? Here are 10 important ways to reduce your risk of heart disease for a healthier life.  

1.Follow a heart-healthy eating pattern

The evidence between diet and heart health is clear – following a healthy eating pattern can lower your risk of heart disease. Fill your plate with fruits, veggies, and wholegrains; healthy protein sources (like fish and legumes); unflavoured milk, yoghurt, and cheese; and healthy fats (like avocado, olives, nuts and seeds and their oils). Use herbs and spices in place of added salt.
Read more about heart-healthy eating.

2. Move more

There’s no two ways about it: physical activity is good for your heart, but nearly 80 per cent of Aussies aren’t getting enough of it. Most adults should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week, plus muscle strengthening activities (like bodyweight exercises or lifting weights) at least two days a week.
Read more about physical activity and heart health.


3.Be smoke free

From damaging your blood vessels to clogging your arteries and reducing the amount of oxygen in your blood, smoking dramatically increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. Quitting can be challenging, but it’s a great first step towards better heart health. Talk to your doctor for help getting started. 
Read more about smoking and heart health.

4.Maintain a healthy weight

A lot of Aussies are carrying a few too many kilos and putting their hearts at risk in the process. Making a weight loss plan can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Chat to your doctor about how to set realistic goals, eat healthier foods and incorporate more movement into your day-to-day life.
Read more about achieving a healthy weight.

5.Drink less alcohol

Here’s some news to take the bubbles out of your champagne:  alcohol consumption increases your risk of some heart conditions like atrial fibrillation – and the more you drink, the more your risk increases.  Our advice? Stick to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) recommended levels of alcohol consumption: for most adults, this means no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 on any single day. The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people not drinking at all is the safest option.
Read more about alcohol and heart health

6.Reduce stress

Feeling stressed? We all know what it feels like. It’s easy to find yourself engaging in unhealthy habits when you’re feeling overwhelmed – a drink too many, un-quitting smoking or zoning out in front of the TV instead of going for a walk. The bad news? Some of these habits can have an impact on your heart. Instead, try engaging with healthy stress management techniques like meditation and physical activity, as well as following a heart healthy eating pattern and maintaining a healthy weight.

7.Manage your cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential to your body’s functioning, but high cholesterol levels can increase your risk of a range of health conditions, including heart attack or stroke. There are three main ways to manage your cholesterol: following a heart-healthy eating pattern, staying active and taking cholesterol-lowering medication if recommended by your doctor.
Read more about managing your cholesterol.

8.Manage your blood pressure

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease, which means regular blood pressure checks are an important part of maintaining your heart health. At home, manage your blood pressure by following a heart-healthy eating pattern, reducing your alcohol intake to below NHMRC recommendations, and increasing your physical activity. Ask your doctor for support with more complex lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, managing your cholesterol and diabetes, or starting blood-pressure medication.
Read more about managing your blood pressure.

9.Manage your blood sugar

High blood sugar levels – such as from diabetes – can increase your risk of heart disease. Managing your blood sugars has a lot in common with general heart health advice – follow a heart-healthy eating pattern, get regular physical activity, reduce your alcohol intake to below NHMRC recommendations and don’t smoke. If you’re on diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure medication, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions for how and when to take your meds.
Read more about diabetes and heart disease.

10.See your GP for a heart health check

Are you over 45, or are you of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and over 30? If so, see your GP for a free Heart Health Check today. Your GP or practice nurse will check your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and have a chat with you about your health history and your lifestyle. They’ll use this information to assess your risk of heart attack or stroke in the next five years and help you make a plan to get your heart health back on track.
Read more about heart health checks.
 

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