February 14th, Valentines day, is the day of love – represented by the symbol of the love heart. With all those hearts flying around, it’s the perfect time to be reminded of the importance of heart health. So it makes sense that it is also Heart Research Australia National Wear Red Day – aimed at raising awareness about the effects of heart disease, as well as the need for ongoing research.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a group of several diseases. Heart disease includes diseases affecting the blood vessels (such as coronary artery disease), the heart rhythm (such as arrhythmias) and heart diseases you are born with (congenital heart disease).
Why is heart research and heart health awareness so important?
Because the figures don’t lie, and right now, heart disease affects 2 out of 3 Australian families. In addition, on average one Australian dies from heart disease every 26 minutes! Because of this, the heart foundation recommends a heart check for people aged over 45, and over 35 for Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander people.
Why is it important to have a heart health check?
Often there are no symptoms early on with heart disease, so without a test you may otherwise not know that you have the risk factors of heart disease.
How does my GP perform a heart health check?
During the consult, your GP will check your blood pressure, arrange blood tests, talk to you about your lifestyle and find out a bit about your family history. Once your blood test results are in, your doctor will be able to determine your risk of heart disease or stroke.
What can I do to reduce my risk of heart disease?
The biggest things within your control are lifestyle factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity. Things such as avoiding excess salt intake (which increases your blood pressure, putting you at risk of heart attack or stroke), not smoking, and lowering your cholesterol levels can really help. If you’re concerned, you can speak to a GP as well as a dietician about how you can adapt your lifestyle to put you in the best possible position for avoiding heart disease.
What can I do to show my support for Heart Research Day?
Wear red! But also you can get together with neighbours, friends and family and raise money for heart research. Some ideas are: have a Wear Red day at school or work for a gold coin donation, host a heart healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner for your family or friends and ask for a small contribution for donation. You can also help spread the word, through social media and your personal networks, by telling people it’s Heart Research Day!