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Caring for your Heart

What can I do to reduce the risk of developing heart disease?

Enjoying a healthy lifestyle is an effective way to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Even if you have already experienced a cardiac (heart) event, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can reduce your risk of having further problems.

Things you should do include:

  • have periodic heart disease risk assessments with your general practitioner
  • have high blood pressure treated
  • have a healthy diet low in saturated fat
  • engage in regular physical activity
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • do not smoke
  • take charge of your cholesterol
  • have testing for diabetes, and if present strive for good blood glucose control

  

Exercise

Inactivity is an important risk factor for heart disease. Regular, moderate physical activity is beneficial for your heart as well as your general health. It will help control your weight, improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and strengthen your bones. You will feel invigorated and can be confident you're taking positive steps toward better physical fitness.  You should see your General Practitioner prior to commencing any new activity regime to confirm it is appropriate for your health level.
  • How often and how much?
The American Heart Association recommends that individuals perform moderate intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • What type of physical activity ?
Choose activities you enjoy and allow yourself a period to ease into your new active lifestyle. Low intensity, low impact activities such as walking, cycling and swimming are ideal. 
Use the stairs, walk to the station, walk the children to school: make physical activity a part of your day. 

 Healthy Eating

  • Enjoy a variety of fresh, nutritious foods to care for your heart and improve your health
  • Healthy eating will improve blood cholesterol levels and the chance of plaque (fatty deposits) building up in your arteries, help achieve your goal weight, reduce the risk of diabetes and provide excellent nourishment
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables - aim for 4 to 5 servings per day.
  • Eat wholegrain foods regularly – e.g. whole-wheat bread, rye bread, brown rice, whole grain cereal
  • Eat more fish, chicken and beans. These are, in general, lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than other meats (beef, lamb, pork)
  • When eating meat, make sure it is lean meat
  • Use margarine instead of butter – plant sterol containing margarine will help lower cholesterol
  • Use olive oil, canola, corn or safflower oilas your main kitchen fat. Limit how much fat or oil you use in food
  • Enjoy low fat milk and yoghurt
  • Have at least 4 servings of unsalted nuts, legumes and seeds per week.
  • Read food labels to guide you in healthy food choices