A quarter of deaths in Australia are due to cardiovascular disease each year, the most common being heart attacks. 80% of heart disease is preventable – here’s what you can do to reduce your risk, even if it runs in your family:

  • Address the risk factors you can control – exercise daily, stop smoking, reduce alcohol (it’s a toxin to heart muscle), reduce salt and saturated fat, and increase fibre in your diet (at least 30g per day)
  • Make sure you manage high blood pressure and cholesterol – see other Osana articles on these topics and talk to your GP
  • Get a heart health check each year, especially if you have a strong family history of heart disease – this involves blood tests, an ECG (electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s conduction), weight, as well as other potential tests such as a Calcium score and a C-Reactive Proten test (predicts 3x risk of heart attacks)
  • Manage other issues that may be associated with heart disease, such as depression, diabetes, stress and obesity
  • If any concerns, you may be referred to a cardiologist for further screening, including a Holter monitor (to measure your heart rhythm), a stress test (to assess how exertion impacts your heart) and an echocardiogram (to assess the structure of the heart)
  • Get a influenza (flu) vaccination every year, and for those over 65 years of age (over 50 if Indigenous), get a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination every 5 years
  • Ensure you have a symptom action plan including what to do if you get sudden chest pain – anyone with angina (chest pain) should consider aspirin and have a nitroglycerine spray on hand to vasodilate (open up) arteries in the initial stages of a heart attack
  • Understand more by reading up on National Heart Foundation resources

During times of Covid where active heart disease conveys a significantly higher risk of severe disease and death, it’s critical we manage this very preventable disease and save unnecessary trips to hospital for our loved ones.