Heart disease is a leading cause of mortality in men. According to the Heart Foundation, approximately 98 men in Australia have a heart attack every day and one in seven of those men die. One of the major risk factors is age so it is important that you get your heart health checked regularly and make yourself aware of other factors that can increase your risk so you can take steps to eliminate or minimise them.
If you are over the age of 45 and you haven’t already done so, you should book into the doctor and have your heart health checked. It is important to do this, even if you lead a healthy lifestyle and feel fine because heart disease can go undiagnosed, progress, and still be asymptomatic until it is too late.
Heart Health Checks
When getting your heart health checked, your doctors will perform a variety of important tests, but there are some simple tests that we do (and you can do too) in between your visits to your doctor so you can keep a record for yourself and your health professionals with regard to heart health.
Resting blood pressure
As blood moves through your arteries it puts pressure on the blood vessel walls, this is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high the heart needs to work harder and artherosclerosis (build up of fatty plaques in your blood vessels that limit blood flow and eventually lead to clots) can occur at a faster rate. Anything equal to or over 140/90 is generally considered high and labelled as hypertension. This is a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Blood pressure machines can be purchased at your local chemist or some chemists also provide free checks.
Resting heart rate
Heart rate is the number of times per minute the heart beats. Normal heart rate is usually between 60-100 beats per minute. The testing of your heart rate can usually be performed with the testing of your blood pressure.
Unfortunately there are a high percentage of Australians overweight or obese and men are more likely to fall into these categories. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important tool used to assess your weight relative to your height. Click here to test your BMI. BMI results for adults generally indicate:
- <18.4 = Underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9 = Normal Weight
- 25 – 29.9 = Overweight
- 30+ = Obese
Some research has, however, suggested that for older adults 22-26 is within an acceptable range.
An increased amount of weight carried around your middle area where the internal fat deposits surround the important internal organs puts you at a greater risk for developing chronic disease. For almost all men a waist measurement that is greater than 94cm is too high. You can measure this by finding the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone and wrapping a tape measure around your waist in the middle of these two points. Take the measurement when you’ve taken a normal breath out.
Unfortunately unmodifiable risk factors such as age, family history of cardiovascular disease and even just being male put you at greater risk of a heart attack, but there are some things that you can do to change other risk factors and better the results of the tests above. These include exercising, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Being mentally healthy and minimising the stress that you are under can also decrease your risk.
Keep your heart healthy
Our friendly staff can assist if you would like your blood pressure or heart rate checked or need help calculating your BMI or measuring your waist. Please feel free to email any further questions you may have to us.
Note: These tests are not an alternative to visiting a doctor, you should definitely have your heart health checked by a medical professional first and follow their advice and prescriptions. If you have any concerns about your heart health, visit your doctor and if you experience any of the following; angina (a discomfort, pain or heaviness usually in your chest but can also be in the shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, or back), shortness of breath, palpitations (irregular heart beats, or a “flip-flop” feeling in your chest), increased heart rate, dizziness or nausea please call 000 immediately.