Know what's in your heart

Sep 2023

When it’s healthy, your heart is a marvel of strength and efficiency. It gives you stamina and helps you get through the day, no matter how relaxing or tough it might be. The heart is also an emotional centre — it beats faster with excitement and calms when you feel loved. Suffice to say it is a critical organ and the more you know about your heart, the better you can support it so it can better support you.

Coronary artery disease

Let’s focus on coronary artery disease, the most common cardiovascular disease in Australia. Coronary artery disease results from the accumulation of plaque on the inner walls of the arteries that bring blood to and from the heart. As more plaque is deposited, the arteries narrow and stiffen, restricting the flow of blood. This form of heart disease happens gradually, which is why it is possible for you to prevent or minimise its impact on your life. Over time, this can lead to a heart attack because the heart can’t get sufficient blood to keep working. A heart attack can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle. 

Around 57,000 Australians are hospitalised due to a heart attack each year,  with heart attacks causing almost one in 20 deaths which equates to one person dying every 74 minutes.

Know your risks

There are risk factors that can increase the likelihood that you’ll develop heart disease.

  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension):    
    • Monitor your blood pressure regularly and follow your healthcare provider's advice for management. Adopt a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly, and limit sodium intake.
  • High Cholesterol Levels:
    • Get regular cholesterol checks. Make dietary changes to reduce saturated and trans fats, increase fibre intake, and consider medication if necessary.
  • Smoking:
    • While we know it’s often easier said than done, the best thing you can do is quit smoking immediately. Don’t be afraid to seek support from quit-smoking programs, nicotine replacement therapy, or medications.
  • Diabetes:
    • Manage your blood sugar levels through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Excess Weight:
    • Adopt a balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Physical Inactivity:
    • Your heart loves exercise so try to incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Remember, your heart is a muscle so include muscle-strengthening activities in your workout plan.
  • Unhealthy Diet:
    • Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and limit processed foods, added sugars, and excess salt.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption:
    • Limit alcohol intake to recommended levels (e.g. no more than two standard drinks per day). Consider alcohol-free days.
  • Stress:
    • Manage stress through relaxation techniques, mindfulness, meditation, and seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals.
  • Family History of Heart Disease:
    • Be aware of your family history and discuss it with your healthcare provider for personalised risk assessment and management strategies.
  • Age:
    • As you age, be proactive about heart health by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular check-ups, and managing other risk factors. 

Remember that individual risk factors may vary, so it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for a comprehensive assessment and personalised recommendations to reduce your risk of heart disease.

How can MetLife 360Health help?

If you’re seeking guidance on some of the tactics above, including maintaining a healthy weight, you can chat to an accredited dietitian through the MetLife 360Health Nutrition Service or get a personalised fitness plan from an exercise physiologist through the MetLife 360Health Fitness and Mobility Service.

MetLife 360Health services are included in your insurance coverage without any extra fees. 

Further Reading

  1. Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts AIHW

  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020, National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD)

  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Causes of death 2019, cat. No. 3303.0, October

  4. Heart Foundation – Are you at risk of heart disease

The information provided in this blog (the Content) is general information only and is not health or medical advice. If you have a health or medical concern, please seek professional medical advice immediately. 360Health services are provided by a third party, Teladoc Health Pty Limited which is a separate and independent entity to MetLife Insurance Limited (ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL No. 238096) (MetLife). While the Content is based on resources that MetLife believes to be well-documented, MetLife is not responsible for the accuracy of the Content, and you rely on the Content at your own risk. Each person’s condition and health circumstances are unique, and therefore the Content may not apply to you. The Content is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your licensed health care professional for the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and before starting or changing your health regimen, including seeking advice regarding what drugs, diet, exercise routines, physical activities or procedures are appropriate for your particular condition and circumstances.

360Health services are not provided by way of insurance (including health insurance) and the provision of these services is not dependent on the occurrence of an insured event under the policy. Access to these services will be at MetLife’s absolute discretion and MetLife reserves the right to reasonably discontinue or change the services at any time. By accessing this website you agree to comply with MetLife's Legal Notices.

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