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Here are ways to keep your heart healthy

Photo: How to keep your heart healthy
Middle-aged Australians are encouraged to get their heads out of the sand and adopt some healthy lifestyle measures to ensure a healthy heart.


  • Quit smoking - Smoking is very bad for your heart. It increases the risk of heart attack, other types of heart disease and stroke. The good news is when you quit, the extra risk is reduced quickly.
  • Monitor and improve cholesterol levels - An imbalance of cholesterol in your blood can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The best way to find out your cholesterol levels is to have them checked by your doctor. Eating less saturated fats and more healthy food helps to reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Monitor and control high blood pressure - It's important to get your blood pressure checked regularly as persistently high readings can lead to a heart attack or stroke. A blood pressure reading under 120/80mmHg is considered optimal. Weight, eating salty foods, alcohol intake and family history can all influence blood pressure.
  • Get active and sit less - Regular, moderate physical activity is great for heart health. It's also important to sit less during your day and break up your sitting time. Even if you're getting enough exercise in your day, you still might be sitting too much. Sedentary behaviour is associated with increased risk of being overweight, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet - Eating a varied diet of healthy foods can help with your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Eat less salt: reducing your salt intake is good for your blood pressure. Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats: replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease. Limit alcohol: men and women should drink no more than two standard drinks a day.
  • Get to a healthy weight and maintain it - Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems. It helps to know your body mass index (BMI) - which compares your weight to your height, and is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared - and waist measurements. A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered a healthy weight. The best way to find out if your weight is a health risk is to check with your doctor or seek advice from a dietitian.
  • Control diabetes - It's important to manage diabetes to help prevent a heart attack or stroke. For all types of diabetes, keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range is essential.
  • Look after your mental health - There can be a greater risk of heart disease for people who have depression, are socially isolated or do not have good social support. Having a good social life with family and friends can help. If you feel depressed for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor or someone you know well.
(Source: The Heart Foundation)


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