I am
You can beat heartbreak this World Heart Day.
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

You can beat heartbreak this World Heart Day.

29 September, 2020

Across the world, cardiovascular disease (disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including heart attack, stroke, heart defects at birth) exacts a heavy toll, taking almost 18 million lives in 2016. Every day in Australia, around 115 people die from cardiovascular disease (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019).

The Heart Foundation fights for all Australian hearts: we know the pain that families, loved ones and friends face when they lose someone to heart disease; we know the impact of living with heart disease, and the daily challenges that come with this.

That’s why we are backing the World Heart Day message, it’s time to “use heart to beat cardiovascular disease

This World Heart Day, it’s time to beat heartbreak

Tuesday, 29 September is World Heart Day; this year, people around the world are being encouraged to:

Use heart to beat cardiovascular disease

Now is time to start caring about cardiovascular disease, and the ways you can act to protect your heart.

The biggest contributors to the burden of heart and the blood vessel disease are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Poor diet
  • High cholesterol

You can learn more about how these factors impact on your heart healthy by completing the Heart Foundation’s online Heart Age Calculator and by seeing your regular doctor for a Heart Health Check. During your Heart Health Check, your doctor will:

  • Check your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Discuss your health history and your lifestyle, including your diet, how physically active you are, if you smoke or drink alcohol, if you maintain a healthy weight and details of your family medical history
  • Use this information to assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years
  • Make a plan to manage your risk factors for developing heart disease and help you keep on top of your heart health
  • Prescribe medication to help lower your heart health risk, if needed
  • Refer you to other services and supports, such as seeing a dietician or joining a walking group

 

For many of us, heart disease risk factors can be addressed with small lifestyle changes; in just a few steps, you can use heart to beat heartbreak by:

Eating healthy to protect your heart

Eating a poor diet is the largest contributor to the burden of cardiovascular disease.

World Heart Day is your chance to think about the simple changes you can make to your diet to help protect your heart and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

There’s no “one size fits all” heart-healthy diet; instead, it’s important to focus on the different foods that you regularly eat over days, weeks and months.

Heart-healthy eating isn’t boring or tasteless; instead, a healthy diet is packed with colour, flavour and variety. Here are some tips for eating foods that are great for your heart health. Eating this way can help to reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as improve your overall health. To enjoy a heart-healthy approach to eating:

  • eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and wholegrains
  • eat minimally processed foods
  • choose a variety of protein-rich foods, including fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans, lentils and chickpeas), nuts and seeds, eggs and chicken, unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • use healthy fats and oils, including olive, canola, sunflower, peanut and soybean oil. You can also choose foods that contain heart-healthy fats, such as avocados, olives, unsalted nuts and seeds
  • add herbs and spices for bursts of flavour

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease. While your body uses cholesterol to build cells, too much can put you at risk of heart disease. Of the two most common types of cholesterol, LDL cholesterol is the one that is bad for your heart health. LDL cholesterol can stick to the walls of arteries and cause a fatty build-up called plaque. Too much plaque leads to blockages that prevent blood from flowing properly to the heart. To discover if your cholesterol is too high, speak with your GP, and get a Heart Health Check (see above).

Eating a heart-healthy diet can help to manage your cholesterol. Foods that help to lower your bad cholesterol include, fatty fish, oats, nuts, wholegrains, beans and vegetable oils.

Exercising can also help to lower your bad cholesterol; doing physical activity can help to raise your level of HDL cholesterol, also known a good cholesterol. This type of cholesterol absorbs bad cholesterol and takes it back to your liver; it is then flushed from your body.

Quitting smoking and e-cigarettes 

Smokers have more heart attacks, strokes and angina (chest pain or discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood) than non-smokers. They also experience these impacts at a much younger age.

There is no safe level of tobacco smoking. When you smoke, you are:

  • Five times more likely to die of peripheral arterial disease (where narrowed blood vessels cause less blood to flow to your limbs)
  • Four times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke)
  • Three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death (a sudden lack of heart activity)
  • Two times more likely to have a heart attack

The Heart Foundation does not support smoking e-cigarettes: research on their safety has identified risks for heart health. To get help to quit smoking, call Quitline on 13 7848, follow the Heart Foundation Quit smoking action plan and speak with your doctor. Sticking to safe alcohol guidelines

Recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 1 in 5 people report that they are drinking more alcohol since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.

People living with heart disease or relevant risk factors, such as high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, coronary heart disease or atrial fibrillation should speak with their GP about drinking alcohol and what level of drinking is safe for them and their heart condition. It is also important to speak with your doctor about possible interactions between alcohol and medications you take, including medications for heart disease or a heart condition.

If you have a condition such as high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, coronary heart disease, or atrial fibrillation, you may need to drink less than recommended levels.

Getting plenty of exercise

Not doing enough exercise is a major contributor to heart disease. Did you know that nearly 60% of adults are not active enough for good heart health?

How much exercise should you do each day to look after your heart? Australia’s physical activity guidelines recommend that adults should:

  • Be active on most, preferably all, days of the week
  • Get between150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week

If you’re not getting enough exercise, it’s best to start with achievable goals and work your way up to meeting these targets. Start off by going for a short, brisk walk each morning. Once you’re comfortable with the distance, go a little further. Walking is the best medicine, plus, it’s a low-impact activity that we can all do; so, it’s a great place to start to improve your heart health. Find out more about how joining a Heart Foundation Walking group can help you to make great connections, keep fit and look after your heart health.


You’re not alone on World Heart Day The Heart Foundation is working towards an Australia free of heart disease. On World Heart Day and every day, we support people to prevent heart disease. We are there for the 580,000 Australians who are living with the challenges of heart disease (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018) and their families.

To learn more about preventing heart disease, managing your heart health or about specific heart conditions, explore our website. You can also get support and heart health information by calling the Heart Foundation Helpline; all calls are answered by medical professionals, and the Helpline is available by calling 13 11 12 during business hours.

Your regular GP is also a vital member of your heart health team. Seeing your GP for a regular check-up is important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, many GPs are seeing patients by telehealth. Ask your doctor about how to make a an appointment to discuss your heart health. The Heart Foundation recommends that anyone 45 years and over or 30 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a regular Heart Health Check with their doctor. You can find out more about Heart Health Checks on our website.

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Information on how air pollution, heatwaves and bushfires can impact heart health, and what you can do to look after yourself. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Our programs and initiatives

Our programs and initiatives

Our programs and initiatives

The Heart Foundation delivers innovative, evidence-based programs and initiatives to support and prevent heart disease in Australia...

Ranch burger bowls

Ranch burger bowls

Ranch burger bowls

20 minutes
Serves 2

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Honour the life of a loved one with a donation to the Heart Foundation. Your donation offers hope for Australian hearts....

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win up to $25,000* while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

Taking your heart medicines

Taking your heart medicines

Taking your heart medicines

Know what your heart medicines are for and how to take them. ...

Chicken and two-grain stuffed capsicums

Chicken and two-grain stuffed capsicums

Chicken and two-grain stuffed capsicums

10 - 12 minutes
Serves 4

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease means that your heart valve or valves don't open or close properly....

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Heart Bypass Surgery

Heart Bypass Surgery

Coronary bypass surgery is a common procedure that can dramatically improve the health of your heart. ...

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Baking recipes

Baking recipes

Baking recipes

Find heart healthy baking recipes ...

Research Directory

Research Directory

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

One of the most powerful ways to help support a future without heart disease is to include a gift to the Heart Foundation in your Will...

Finding a new purpose: Geoff Lester’s heart story

Finding a new purpose: Geoff Lester’s heart story

Finding a new purpose: Geoff Lester’s heart story

Dr Geoff Lester, 35, is training to be a cardiologist at Coffs Harbour Hospital. He has survived three high-risk open-heart surgeries and two strokes....

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

Ask the experts: caring for people with CVD during COVID-19...

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

Everything we do is possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. ...

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Lamb recipes

Find heart healthy lamb recipes....

WEBINAR | Absolute CVD risk assessment practical update

WEBINAR | Absolute CVD risk assessment practical update

A multidisciplinary panel of experts discuss the practical application of absolute CVD risk assessment through Heart Health Checks....

Endorsement of externally developed clinical resources

Endorsement of externally developed clinical resources

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

Emotional wellbeing is like having a garden, sometimes it grows green on its own, other times it needs watering, cutting back or fertilising....

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? 

Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. ...

Beef recipes

Beef recipes

Beef recipes

Find heart healthy beef recipes....