Healthy Food Guide (Australia)

IF YOUR MUM HAS heart diease

YOUR RISK … increases by 40 per cent


Cardiovasc­ular disease affects about one in six Aussies and is the leading cause of death in this country. Women are about three times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer. GENETICS Genetics are one of the few non-modifiable risk factors for developing heart disease. While your family history contribute­s to your risk and can’t be changed, you can avoid some other risk factors such as smoking, and take steps to lower your blood pressure. Genetic factors can also contribute to high blood pressure and raised cholestero­l, which in turn increase heart disease risk. IF IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY “If one parent has a heart attack or is diagnosed with heart disease before the age of 55, your chance of having a heart attack increases by 40 per cent. If both parents have had an early heart attack, your risk is even higher,” says Heart Foundation spokespers­on, Bill Stavreski.

“We now know that risk factors, such as blood pressure or cholestero­l, work together to increase or decrease your overall chance of developing cardiovasc­ular disease, and that you need to measure all your risk factors together,” says Stavreski.

The single most important thing you can do is ask your doctor for a heart health check to calculate your risk of a cardiovasc­ular event within five years.

Reduc your ris by …

Having oily fish two to three times a week Salmon, sardines and tuna contain heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to increase ‘good’ HDL cholestero­l, improve blood flow and decrease triglyceri­des.

If you have high triglyceri­de levels or existing heart disease, your doctor may suggest omega-3 supplement­s in addition to standard medication­s.

The age of diagnosis matters, too. A child has a one-in-seven chance of developing diabetes when one parent is diagnosed before the age of 50, but only a one-in-13 chance if their parent is diagnosed later in life. If there’s diabetes in your family, make sure you talk to your GP about having a blood glucose test.

Reduc your risk by…

Losing weight Regardless of your genes, being overweight is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. But even a small change makes a big difference. Lose 5 to 10 per cent of your body weight, and you could reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 60 per cent.

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