Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. Despite being the number 1 killer, there is little awareness of the disease. One of the reasons heart disease is such a big killer is that people make many heart health mistakes. Even if you are being careful with your health it’s still easy to slip up when it comes to doing the right thing to keep a healthy heart.
Although the message is getting out more, people still need to understand their risk factors. It helps in early detection that can make all the difference between life and death.
You can start by asking questions. Are my heart disease threats higher because of my family medical history? Or, did any of my family members have a previous case of heart attack or stroke? The answer to these questions is the cornerstone to prevent heart diseases and leading a more heart healthy life.
Here is a list of 6 heart health mistakes often made and how you can avoid them
1) I am healthy, should I still go for a heart screening?
The answer to this question is: Yes, it’s never too early to get tested.
If you’re aged 45 or more (or 35 or above for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander community) then it’s recommended to get your risks assessed by a doctor. If you need help, visit our heart health clinic in Toowoomba for a consultation.
If you smoke, or have been diagnosed with diabetes or have high blood pressure or cholesterol or both, then is it highly recommended to get screened irrespective of your age and know what risks could be associated.
Even if you don’t notice any warning signs, you should discuss with your doctor and act to reduce your risk for heart disease.
2) Resist the temptation to indulge your sweet tooth
We all love to eat sweets. But, there are many downsides to having a sweet tooth. Consuming too much added sugar food items can be one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular diseases.
Sugar is also present in things that you may not think of such as bread, tomato sauce and certain soups.
In our diet, the top sources of added sugars are from soft drinks, yoghurt, chocolates, cereals, cookies, cakes and most processed food.
A study between high-sugar diet and risk from heart disease shows that over a course of time, people who got their 17% to 21% daily calories from added sugar had a 38% more chances of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The mistake that people often make is assuming certain food items are heart-healthy because they are advertised as low in fat but they may be high in sugars. Reading food labels is one of the best ways to keep a track on your sugar consumption. Look for added sugar content and avoid buying them or cut back on your intake.
3) Stop smoking
Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and the risk for causing heart disease only increases with more smoking and when smoking continues for many years.
Even exposure to secondhand smoking causes heart diseases in non smokers. The chemicals in tobacco cause swollen and inflamed blood vessels that can lead to a number of cardiovascular diseases including coronary artery disease and stroke.
Even though smoking impacts heart vessels quickly, the damage can be repaired for smokers who stop smoking. Within a year after quitting smoking, the risk for heart attack drastically reduces and within 5 years, most people can cut their risk of stroke to nearly that of a non-smoker.
4) Don’t Ignore chest pain or difficulty in breathing
Certain early signs of heart disease such as chest pain, shortness of breath are very similar to other health issues. For example, chest pain is common in both cardiovascular disease or inflammation of the muscles or chest infection.
If you notice any symptoms like chest pain and breathing heavily, nausea and sweating, make no mistake and consult a doctor. Do not ignore symptoms as waiting could have serious consequences.
So, this is how you should proceed: If you notice any prolonged chest or abdominal pain, nausea, difficulty in breathing, clamminess that seem unusual for you , consult medical attention urgently by calling 000. You could be having a heart attack and time is of the essence.
5) Stop bottling up stress
A psychology report found that bottled up stress or keeping your fear and anger to yourself can increase your risk for heart disease.
Whether you’re experiencing anger, any grief or feeling frustrated, pushing those feelings aside can cause physical stress on the body. And if left untreated for a long time, it can heighten your risk for many health issues including heart diseases.
If you come across situations where you’re not able to control your emotions, seek help from others. Talking to a loved one can greatly help. Always inform your doctors if you need to.
Your Heart Health Assessment with GPs on Curzon
At our Heart Health clinic in Toowoomba, we provide a comprehensive assessment of your heart health risk factors and provide screening and treatment of heart and cardiovascular diseases.
Our doctors will conduct a 20 minutes assessment to identify your risk associated with heart diseases and provide a management plan to mitigate the risk effectively.