Did you know that there is no one cause for heart disease. However, there are several risk factors that can increase your chance of developing it. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop heart disease.
Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making positive and sustainable lifestyle changes to lower your risk. Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with healthy choices.
There are some risk factors that are out of your control
If you have had a close family member (such as a parent or sibling) who has had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 60, you are at an increased risk of heart disease.
Your ethnic background can also increase your risk of developing heart disease.
People of South Asian, Middle Eastern, Maori or Pacific Islander descent have an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples also are at increased risk and are twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to non-indigenous Australians.
Your social environment can also have an impact on your heart health. People living in low socioeconomic areas are at higher risk of having a heart attack or dying due to heart disease. This can be associated with social exclusion and limited access to employment, health services or healthy foods.
What are some of the risk factors in my control and what can I do to change them?
Smoking– Smoking damages the blood vessels to your heart, brain and other parts of your body. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for the health of your heart and the people around you.
If you find it hard to quit, there is a lot of support available. Talk to your doctor about support or reach out to Quitline on 13 78 48.
Eating an unhealthy diet– The foods we eat can have an impact on our heart health and can impact our cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. It is all about sustainable changes over time. A heart-healthy diet should be low in unhealthy fats, salt and added sugar, and rich in wholegrains, fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Being inactive– By doing regular physical activity or exercise you can often reduce your risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Keeping active also helps to manage other risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight. Being more active can also make you feel more energetic, happier and more relaxed.
Being overweight– achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and improves your heart health and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Start slowing and develop health sustainable habits. See your GP for further advice and support if needed.
High alcohol intake– heavy drinking over the long term can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, weaken your heart muscle and increase your triglycerides (fat in your blood). Try to limit yourself to no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.