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Tips to improve heart health

It’s not just men who have to worry about their hearts, women are just as susceptible to poor heart health.

woman holding a heart

So often we hear about men having heart attacks or suffering from bad heart health. Now, however, the focus is just as much on encouraging women to get their health on track and prevent heart disease.

According to Australia’s Heart Foundation, “Heart diesease is the no. 1 killer of Australian women,” and “Women are four times more likely to die of it than breast cancer.”

What many people don’t realise is that “90% of Australian women have at least one risk factor such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or family history,” as told by the Heart Foundation’s Go Red For Women awareness campaign.

When it comes to heart disease there are some factors that you can’t change such as your age or family history. You can, however, change the everyday lifestyle you lead and curb any risks that may contribute to poor heart health.

Quit smoking

Among the many other nasty side effects, there are known links between cigarette smoking and heart attacks, strokes and other vascular diseases. It is also believed that second-hand smoke can contribute to poor heart health in others. So, throw out your cigarettes and get your health and that of your family on the right path.

Discover helpful hints about how to quit smoking >>

Get active

One of the best ways to improve and maintain good heart health is through daily exercise. You should aim to do 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise, say a brisk walk, almost every day of the week.

Hot tip! Don’t like walking alone? Join one of the Heart Foundation’s Walking Groups. They’re coordinated all across Australia and offer a chance to meet people with similar health goals.

The Better Health Channel says, “If you are currently inactive or feel your fitness level is low, start gently with a short session of an activity that you feel you can manage. Build your confidence and fitness level with a number of short sessions.”

If you can’t fit in a full 30-minute block of exercise daily, try to break it up into 10-minute sessions, three times over the course of a day — every little bit helps.

Improve your diet

A poor diet that is high in sugar, salt and bad fats can lead to really poor heart health, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even type 2 diabetes — all of which have strong links to heart attacks and strokes.

The Heart Foundation recommends “… all Australians follow a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of foods from all food groups.”

You diet should include:

  • Five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day
  • Moderate serves of low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, margarine etc)
  • Lean meats and chicken, and/or fat removed before cooking
  • Wholegrain products (such as pastas, breads, rice etc)
  • Legumes, beans and lentils
  • Two to three serves of an oily fish like salmon or blue mackerel every week
  • Other food enriched with Omega-3s and/or fish oil supplements
  • Reduced salt products (and don’t add salt to your cooking)
  • Healthy oils (polyunsaturated and monosaturated) for cooking such as olive oil
  • Lots of water!

This article should be viewed as a guide only and not for diagnosis or treatment purposes. Please consult a medical specialist if you are concerned about your health.

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