Seize the power to be a hero on World Heart Day

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Cape? Check. Costume? Wearing it. Ready to be a Heart Hero? On World Heart Day, being held this Sunday, 29 September, you have the power to take your heart health up, up and away! The theme for this year’s worldwide celebration of heart health is all about being a heart hero. You don’t really need to stretch on the spandex, being a heart hero is about taking real action to improve your heart health.

What’s World Heart Day all about?

Heroes step into the breach and act. Being a Heart Hero means stepping up to face one of the dastardliest villains of all: heart disease. This wicked serial killer takes the lives of 51 Australians every day.

On World Heart Day, you can smash heart disease with a cataclysmic “KA-POW!”, and it all starts with making a series of promises.

You can act to live a heart-healthy life by making a promise to:

  • Your family to cook and eat more heart-healthy foods
  • Your children to exercise more and help them to be more active
  • You and your loved ones to say no to smoking and to help others to quit

We all know that heroes do all they can to keep their promises.

Unleash your heart health superpowers!

You have the power to be the champion of your own heart health story.

Like all great heroes, you can reach into yourself to discover your true destiny, which is to defeat heart disease! Flex those heart hero muscles, show off your spandex suit and use these superpowers to stride into the future as the heart health hero you are destined to be.

Join a dynamic duo to discover more about your heart health

Some of the most successful superheroes make their mark when they team up to save the day. Think of your regular family doctor as the perfect member of your team to take the fight to heart disease.

There are many ways your doctor can support you to improve your heart health, one of the best places to start is with a heart health check.

If you are 45 years of age or older (30 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) and have not had a heart attack or stroke, start with a Heart Health Check.

During a Heart Health Check, your GP will arrange blood tests to check your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, check your blood pressure, ask about your lifestyle and take a full medical and family history. Your doctor will calculate if you are at low, medium or high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years and support you to make the right changes to improve your heart health.

Before you see your doctor, you can discover more about your heart health by completing our Heart Age Calculator. Click on the link to answer questions about your family’s heart health history and about your lifestyle; the calculator will give you a score known as your “Heart Age”. If your heart age is older than your real age, you may be in great peril; you could face a higher risk of developing heart disease.

You can discuss your Heart Age Calculator result with your doctor to learn more about any lifestyle, diet and activity changes you can make to boost your heart health.

Power up a heart-healthy diet in the kitchen

One way to a superhero heart is through your stomach; heart-healthy eating is a superpower that we can all develop, and it can be as easy as cooking up some scrumptious recipes.

The key to a delicious dynamic diet is mastering our recently revealed healthy eating recommendations Luckily, these are much easier to follow than the directions to a supervillain’s hidden, secret lair. Follow these tips to get eating for heart health:

  • Plant foods should make up most of your plate; be sure to include lots of vegetables, fruits and wholegrain cereals, as well as legumes (chickpeas, beans and lentils)
  • Fish and seafood are also great choices
  • You can add smaller servings of other animal-based products, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, poultry and lean meat

The Heart Foundation believes that heart-healthy eating should be delicious: superheroes have taste buds too! So, how do these recipes sound?:

Smash cigarettes to the Forbidden Zone!

One wicked weapon that is guaranteed to sap your heart’s health is cigarettes.  If you smoke, you are more likely to be struck down by:

  • Heart attack (when a blood clot blocks blood flow to your heart and heart muscle begins to die, due to a lack of oxygen)
  • Stroke (when blood supply to your brain is interrupted)
  • Angina (when chest pain is caused by reduced blood flow to your heart)
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (when narrow arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs)

Once you quit smoking, your heart unleashes its healing powers:

  • One year after quitting, your risk of a heart attack or stroke is reduced by half
  • In 5 to 15 years, your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease returns to that of someone who has never smoked 

If you need a power boost to commit to quitting, reach out: the Heart Foundation Helpline is there for you. Jump into a telephone booth or grab your nearest secret hotline and dial 13 11 12 to speak with a qualified health professional.

Take on a sidekick and inspire the next generation of heart heroes

Once you build your powers to smash heart disease, you have a great responsibility to share all you have discovered with others.

If you are a super mum or dad, an uncle or aunt, a cousin or a best mate, you can inspire the next heart health super crew: how? You can start by committing to the promises we mentioned above (see What’s World Heart Day all about?); of those powerful pledges, here are two that can galvanize the next generation:

  • Use your powers of persuasion to get kids active
  • Maximise your force fields to keep them away from smoking

Of course, there is always more we can do but, sometimes, being a superhero isn’t about saving the world: it’s about doing the right thing for yourself and the ones you love the most.