Steps to a healthy heart

Health & Wellbeing -

At TAL, prevention forms an important part of our commitment to the holistic health and wellbeing of our customers throughout their journey with us.

Heart Week runs from 2-8 May and aims to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining heart health and preventative heart health checks. Here, Dr Priya Chagan, General Manager Health Services, shares information on cardiovascular disease and ways we can look after our heart health.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest health issues facing Australians today, but did you know there are some simple steps you can take to help look after your heart?

  1. Diet matters
  2. A poor diet is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. A diet that's good for your heart, isn't about strict, restrictive eating but making small positive changes that you can stick to long term.

    Key things to include in your diet for good heart health:

    • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
    • Wholegrains
    • A variety of healthy protein especially oily fish, legumes, nuts and seeds
    • Healthy fat choices like avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
    • Add herbs and spices to cooking for flavour instead of salt.

    Some of the things you should avoid or keep to a minimum include:

    • Alcohol
    • Processed foods
    • Red meat
    • Fried foods
    • Food high in salt or sugar.

  3. Stay active
  4. Regular exercise reduces heart disease risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol. You don't have to slog it out at the gym. Instead, choose activities that you enjoy that will make it easier to stick to an active lifestyle. Even incidental exercise can really make a difference. Choose to take the stairs instead of the lift or park your car a little further away so you can get in some extra steps. Before you know it, staying active will be a regular part of your daily routine.

  5. Be smoke-free
  6. Smoking damages blood vessels and increases your likelihood of dying from a heart attack or stroke. The sooner you quit, the better. Your risk of heart attack and stroke decreases almost straight away so there's no time like the present to take a major step to better heart health. If you're a smoker and need help to quit, talk to your GP or contact the Quitline for support.

  7. Manage your cholesterol and blood pressure
  8. Maintaining your cholesterol and blood pressure within healthy levels is an important contributor to heart health. You can have high blood pressure and cholesterol without having any obvious symptoms, so it's important to see your doctor for a check-up. The good news is that a healthy lifestyle that promotes heart health, also has a positive affect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

  9. Watch for the signs
  10. Warning signs for heart attack can vary from person to person. It's important to be aware of the common signs so that you can get help fast. Acting quickly can reduce the damage to your heart and increase chances of survival. Some common heart attack warning signs are:

    • Chest discomfort or pain (angina). This can feel like uncomfortable pressure, aching, numbness, squeezing, fullness or pain in your chest. This discomfort can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back. It can last for several minutes or come and go
    • Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or feeling anxious
    • Nausea, indigestion, vomiting
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – with or without chest discomfort
    • Sweating or a cold sweat.

If you or someone around you experiences these symptoms, call triple zero (000) right away and ask for an ambulance. If you'd like to find out more about Heart Health Checks, visit the Heart Foundation website or speak with your GP.

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