A healthy heart is essential for healthy living
World Heart Day takes place on 29 September every year. It is the World Heart Federation’s biggest platform for raising awareness about cardiovascular disease. This World Heart Day, the focus is on keeping hearts healthy. The World Heart Federation would like everyone to show how they ‘power their heart’, and inspire others to also be heart healthy.
Tips to improve your heart health
Improve your wellbeing with a few simple steps:
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly
- Eat a healthy and varied diet; especially plant based foods including fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes and wholegrain breads and cereals
- Get active, exercise at least 30 minutes daily. Inactivity increases risk of heart disease
- Have your cholesterol checked regularly
- Limit alcohol consumption with no more than two standard drinks per day
- Quit smoking. Call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or ask your pharmacist about treatment options.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the world’s biggest health problems. In Australia the most common and serious types of cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (e.g. heart attack), stroke and heart failure. In Australia, one person dies from cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes Coronary heart disease (also called ischaemic heart disease), is caused by the build-up of fatty material called plaque on the inside walls of coronary arteries, causing arteries to narrow. Common warning signs of a heart attack Understand the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack and act quickly to prevent death.
Typical signs and symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- cold sweats
- discomfort or pain in the center of your chest which can feel like heaviness, tightness or pressure. The discomfort may spread to different parts of your upper body.
- discomfort in arm(s), shoulder(s), neck, jaw or back.
You may also have:
- a choking feeling in your throat, and
- your arms may feel heavy or useless.
What to do when heart attack occurs
There is a small window of opportunity to minimise heart damage.
- Get emergency treatment within 90 minutes of the first signs and symptoms. After two hours, damage to the heart muscle may be irreversible and cause permanent disability.
- Call an ambulance – treatment will start when you phone. You will receive advice on what to do while waiting for the ambulance. An ambulance is also the safest and fastest way to get to hospital if a heart attack is suspected.
Every minute counts when you have a heart attack. The lack of blood flow to the heart means the heart muscle begins to die. The earlier the blocked artery can be opened and the blood flow restored, the greater the proportion of heart muscle that can be saved, and the greater the chance of survival. According to The Heart Foundation (www.heartfoundation.org.au) too many people lose their lives because they take too long to call an ambulance. It is therefore vital to know the warning signs of a heart attack. They advise that the best thing you can do to find out about your risk of heart disease is to see your doctor for a heart health check. If you’re over 45 years old, and over 35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an annual check-up.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease, in many cases, can be prevented, as there are a number of risk factors that can be controlled.
Risk factors include:
- being overweight or obese
- tobacco smoking
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- inadequate physical activity.
Your local pharmacy is your health destination and can provide a range of products, medicines, services and advice to assist in preventing and managing heart disease. These include:
- prescription medicines and advice on medicines
- health advice
- blood pressure monitoring
- services to help you lose weight and quit smoking.
Visit your local pharmacy today to find out more information on heart disease and heart attacks. Pharmacies around Australia provide the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care health information. Self Care Fact Cards available have topics on the Warning signs of heart attack and High blood pressure, as well as lifestyle topics such as Staying a non-smoker and Weight and health. For the nearest Self Care pharmacy phone 1300 369 772, or go to www.psa.org.au/selfcare