World Heart Day

World Heart Day is an international awareness day for heart health which began on September 29th, 2000. The awareness day was started by the World Heart Federation (WHF) and is dedicated to helping everyone improve their hearts health.  

World Heart Day is aimed at drawing people’s attention to the impact of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or commonly referred to as heart disease and the health risks associated. World heart day highlights the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control CVD and encourages people to participate and take charge of their heart health. Actions that you can take today to improve your heart health are discussed in greater detail below.

What is cardiovascular disease?

CVD refers to a class of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels, including heart attacks and strokes and is the world’s number one killer, causing over 18.6 million deaths per year. CVD can be caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental, and socio-economic risk factors.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease

There are many risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke. Although non-modifiable risk factors such as genetics, age, sex and family history cannot be changed, there are a range of modifiable risk factors that should be addressed through lifestyle interventions and treatment to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Modifiable risk factors include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Tobacco use
  • Harmful use of alcohol

These behaviours can lead to raised blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, overweight and obesity, which can be measured in order to assess an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 80% of all heart attacks and strokes are preventable by modifying the above risk factors. It is important to keep an eye on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels as these may be early warning signs of heart disease.

Symptoms of cardiovascular disease vary but can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Pain, weakness, or numbness in your legs and/or arms
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, shoulder, jaw and back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Abnormal changes in your heart rhythm
  • Very fast or slow heartbeat, palpitations or fluttering in your chest
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Swelling of the hands, legs, ankles or feet
  • Fever
  • Skin rashes or unusual spots
  • Dry or persistent cough

If you have any concerns that you may be at risk of developing heart disease or display a large number of the symptoms outlined above, it is recommended to see your General Practitioner for a review and further advice.

How to improve your heart health

Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart. A healthy diet should include a wide variety of unprocessed and fresh foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions every day), whole grains, nuts and foods low in saturated fats, sugars and salt. Be aware of processed foods which may contain high levels of salt and remember to drink lots of water!

Exercise

It only takes 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, five days a week, to improve and maintain your health. Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity, every week. Children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.

Try to make exercise a regular part of your life: use the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. Being active is also a great way to relieve stress and control your weight, which are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

If you have any questions about how you can implement an appropriate exercise regime into your lifestyle, our team at Move would love to help you reach these goals.

Benefits of Exercise for your heart health

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Reduce risk of developing diabetes
  • Reduce inflammation in body
  • Slow and control your heart rate
  • Improve/reduce stress hormones
  • Improve efficiency and strength of your heart
  • Much, much more!

Exercise challenge – how to get involved today!

We challenge you to walk, run or bike in a heart shape in your city. Whatever distance you make, every step counts for your heart health. We want to see as many hearts, in as many cities as possible by 29 September 2022. Whether alone or in a group, create your heart shape and share it with others.

By Brodie Nathan