Saturday, July 12, 2008

Have a heart!

I went to a fascinating talk earlier this week at the Sanctuary Cove Rec Club. One of the members of the club spoke first - a 70-something year old guy who'd had a heart attack 18 months earlier. He was actually at the club's gym working out when the heart attack happened. The quick response of the team meant that there was no lasting damage, and he made a full recovery.

A volunteer from the Heart Foundation spoke next, and rattled off some scary stats about cardiovascular disease. This disease:

  • kills one Australian every ten minutes.
  • affects more than 3.5 million Australians.
  • prevents 1.4 million people from living a full life because of disability caused by the disease.
  • was suffered by one in six Australians in 2004, and affected two out of three families.
  • claimed the lives of almost 48,000 Australians (35 per cent of all deaths) in 2004 - deaths that are largely preventable.
It wasn't all gloom and doom though - the number of deaths in 2004 had dropped ever so slightly the last few years - it sounds like the Heart Foundation's education programs are working and people are generally becoming more aware of the risk factors of heart disease.

According to the Heart Foundation, the risk factors include:

  • smoking
  • high blood cholesterol
  • physical inactivity
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • being overweight
  • depression, social isolation and lack of social support

Being male and having a family history of early death from heart disease are also heart disease risk factors. The stats about smoking's impact on heart disease were staggering - people who smoke are four times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers!

The rest of the talk focused on how healthy living and eliminating or managing controllable risk factors can help to reduce your chances of suffering cardiovascular disease.

The key take outs from the talk were really about maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle - it's the same old stuff about moderation, moderation, moderation!

Hearing the stats certainly drove the point home about how prevalent heart disease is - and how preventable it could be if heeded the advice of the Heart Foundation.

Check out the Healthy Living section on their website for tips about how to love your heart a little bit more.

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