February is Heart Health Awareness Month in New Zealand.
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death and a major cause of disability and other health problems in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a general term used to describe any type of disorder that affects the heart.
Chief Clinical Advisor in Primary Care, Dr Anna Skinner says there are many ways to reduce your potential risk of getting heart disease:
“Making healthy choices can reduce the risks of developing heart disease. By doing some of these, your heart will be healthier,” says Dr Skinner.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Our diet can be a major factor in the health of our heart.
- Keep to a healthy weight. Excess weight can result in fatty materials building up in arteries, potentially leading to a heart attack.
- Do regular exercise. Regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight. This will lower your chances of developing high blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. Not smoking reduces the chances of developing heart disease.
- Get your heart checked. This is a great way to find out your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. The Heart Foundation provides a free, online heart health assessment to give an indication of your heart health, which can be found at My Heart Check.
Dr Skinner says there are some factors you can’t change that may impact your risk of getting heart disease, including family history, age, sex and ethnicity.
But she says by making healthy choices, the risks of heart disease are reduced in the long term.
“It’s a no-brainer that we want our hearts to continue pumping properly. Being aware of the risk factors, and how to reduce them, is key to good health,” says Dr Skinner.