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Keeping Your Heart Healthy

06 October, 2014

The heart plays an essential role in the human body, and over time your heart can become diseased due to advancing years and various lifestyle factors. Genetic factors can also play a significant role.

Fortunately, there are many things that everyone can do to protect their heart for a longer and healthier life.

Smoking

A smoking habit is one of the most important risk factors associated with heart disease. The chemicals in the tobacco can lead to heart damage as well as compromise the blood vessels in the body. Smoking is linked with the narrowing of arteries, which is in turn a direct cause of heart attacks.

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are both risk factors, and no amount of smoke is risk-free. It is also important to note that those who have quit smoking lower their risk of heart disease significantly after just 12 months.

Exercise

Exercise is another way to keep the heart healthy. Stay active by exercising for 30 to 60 minutes 5 or 6 days of the week. Exercise brings the added benefit of weight management and control, and it lowers the risk of other health problems such as diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure. People who have a pre-existing heart condition can still engage in exercise by choosing moderate and gentle activities such as walking or swimming.

Diet

Diets low in fat, cholesterol and salt are best for heart health. The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet) is a well-known diet for keeping the heart healthy. The DASH diet emphasises the need for whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and fruit to be the primary food groups in a person’s dietary intake.

Eating more beans, fish and lean meats, and cutting down the amounts of unhealthy fats, are also crucial for heart health. Sources of unhealthy fats include dairy products, red meat, bakery products, trans-fats and crackers. Avoid all hydrogenated/trans fat oils such as peanut oil, and eat more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and flaxseed.

Healthy weight

Those who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease. As a general rule, everyone should aim to keep their body mass index (BMI) under 25.

Health screens

Regular screening detects issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to heart problems. Most people should have their blood pressure checked every five years during their young adult years (up to age 30, and depending on any morbidities or prescribed medications), and then yearly after that.

CBHS advocates preventative measures such as lifestyle adjustments and medical check-ups for all members. We offer coverage for preventative services, which include dental and breast examinations.

To find out more about our preventative measures that may be available for you and your family, contact us through our website www.cbhs.com.au or call us on 1300 654 123.

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