Heart Health

Heart Health


Learn the warning signs
During National Heart Week this year, 2-8 May, the Heart Foundation is asking the question: “Will you recognise your heart attack?” Heart attack warning signs vary from person to person; and they may not always be sudden or severe.

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What does a stroke look like?
Heart and blood vessel disease, known medically as cardiovascular disease, remains Australia’s number one killer. It affects nearly 2.5 million Australians. Together, heart attack and stroke (maybe we should call it “brain attack”) account for around a third of all deaths in Australia. This year Australians will suffer more than 60,000 new and recurrent strokes – that’s one stroke every 10 minutes. Statistics indicate that one in five people having a first ever stroke will die within a month and one in three die within a year.

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We all should work with heart
Hypertension (the medical term for abnormally high blood pressure) is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most serious risk factors for death worldwide. It is estimated that about 30% of Australian adults have hypertension; and most of these people are receiving no treatment. What makes hypertension so serious is that, well before the explosive heart attack or stroke occurs, there is underlying, sometimes irreparable damage done to the cardiovascular system, the kidneys and the brain. Also, hypertension, especially when combined with diabetes, significantly increases the risk of blindness.

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Are all our health dollars going to waist?
The consequences of carrying excess weight cost us dearly – both individually and as a community. Cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are probably the most significant conditions resulting from obesity; but there are many other conditions as well that are associated with carrying around too much weight. Weight related health problems include back pain, muscle and joint problems, osteoarthritis, stress incontinence, sleep apnoea and general fatigue. There are also psychological problems: low self esteem, low self confidence and depression.

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Diabetes – a monumental challenge
Worldwide diabetes is fast reaching epidemic proportions. In fact, diabetes is the fourth main cause of death in most developed countries. Recent figures from the World Health Organization indicate that more than 3 million deaths throughout the world are attributable to diabetes each year; numbers comparable to the most deadly of infectious diseases – AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Studies show that nearly one in four Australian adults either has diabetes or so-called impaired glucose metabolism which is associated with a substantial risk of diabetes and heart disease.

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Fabulous fibre
The benefits of fibre in the diet have been known for many years. In fact, one of the earliest proprietary fibre supplements, containing parts of the seed of the Plantago ovata (psyllium) plant, was marketed more than 75 years ago as the non-irritant laxative Metamucil. But, we now know that fibre offers more benefits than just a better functioning bowel. Each of the four main types of fibre – soluble fibre, insoluble fibre, resistant starches and so-called oligosaccharides – works in a different but complementary way. So, it’s important to get dietary fibre from a variety of sources: fruit, vegetables, legumes, pulses, nuts and the bran or husk of cereal grains.

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Good health gift ideas
For many people, Christmas has deep religious significance; for others, it’s simply a time to relax and enjoy a few days off work. But for almost everyone, this time of year has traditionally become one of celebration. Throughout many societies it is commonplace to exchange gifts or simply ‘season’s greetings’, and to express sentiments of peace and goodwill. Wishes of good health usually accompany greetings at this time of year; so, perhaps some healthy gift ideas could be worth a thought as well.

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Keeping your heart healthy
We take our hearts for granted but the reality is that if we don’t look after them the results can be catastrophic. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the cause of 34% of deaths in Australia, followed by all cancers on 29%.

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Healthy hearts
Today’s frantic pace of life is an ever-increasing problem where stress, working long hours and eating unhealthy food all contribute to heart disease. Obesity, hypertension and diabetes are also major concerns when it comes to a healthy heart. The heart is placed under additional strain when working to manage a high body mass. Obesity also often worsens sleep problems, which are an independent risk factor for heart attack. Another major risk factor for developing heart disease is smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.

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Help for the heart
Cardiovascular disease includes all diseases and conditions of the heart and blood vessels. The main cause of cardiovascular disease in Australia is atherosclerosis, an abnormal build-up of fat and other substances which form plaque inside the arteries. Atherosclerosis may be present but without symptoms for years however, the ultimate consequences can be debilitating and even life-threatening, such as heart attack and stroke.

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