It’s time to put your health first
Published: 3 May 2018
Heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in New Zealand. Each year, more than 3,000 Kiwi women lose their lives to the condition.
It affects women of all ages too. For Pacific people, we know that heart disease affects us at a younger age. So it’s really important we look after our hearts.
When it comes to looking after your children, family and friends, sometimes your own health can take a back seat. But making sure you’re taking care of yourself will help prevent future health problems.
Here are six tips to make sure you’re looking after your heart.
1. Know your risk
Do you know your likelihood of getting heart disease? Book an appointment with your doctor to find out. Ask them for a heart and diabetes check. At the appointment, they’ll check your blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Together, you’ll talk about your risk factors and what you can do to change them if you need to. Some of these can’t be changed, like your age, ethnicity or family history. However some can, like whether or not you smoke, how much exercise you do and what you eat.
2. Don’t ignore the symptoms
If someone asked you what the warning signs of heart disease are, could you tell them? It’s pretty difficult, some heart conditions have no symptoms, and some have symptoms that could be linked to other illnesses.
Chest pain can be a warning sign and something you should get checked at the doctor. Shortness of breath can also be a symptom, as can nausea, dizziness and sweating.
We often hear stories about people dismissing their symptoms because they think it’s something less serious. It’s always best to get anything unusual checked out.
3. Embrace colourful fruit and veges
Look at what you’re eating. Is your plate full of colourful fruit and veges? Or does it look brown and boring? Is there too much taro? Eating more fruit and vegetables, and less processed food will make your heart not just healthy, but happy too.
Next time you’re out shopping, make sure your trolley is mostly full of fruit and veges. They can be frozen, fresh or canned. When it comes to making meals, make sure your plate is made up mostly of vegetables.
Hey, if you’re cooking the meals, you can make sure your family is eating healthily too – an added benefit!
4. Take time to relax
Do you often feel like you’re rushing around looking after everyone else? It’s normal to want to take care of your family, so long as you make sure you take time to relax and look after yourself too.
Treating yourself to a little ‘me’ time will make your mind, body and spirit happy. You could have a bath or treat yourself to a movie night with the girls.
5. Make time to exercise
Thirty minutes of exercise every day is all it takes to help keep your heart happy. It can be tough to find that extra half hour in a busy day but if you look hard enough, you’ll find the time.
Do you get a lunch break at work? Why not go for a walk every day, or take up a lunchtime fitness class?
Collecting the kids from school? You could walk part of the way, then your kids can benefit from the exercise too.
It doesn’t have to be a block of 30 minutes either. If you’ve got 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon, it still counts.
6. Ditch the cigarettes
By now, we all know that smoking is no good for us at all. The trouble is, it’s difficult to quit. Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your heart.
Here are some facts that might inspire you to quit. Once you stop smoking, after:
● 20 minutes, your blood pressure starts to lower
● 8 hours, your risk of heart attack starts to fall
● 12 weeks, it is easier for your heart to pump.
Read more about quitting smoking and how it helps your heart.
Look after your heart
While you’re looking after your family, take a moment to think about ways you can take care of yourself, and your heart too. Then you can spread the word to your family and whānau, so they can also have happy hearts.
Visit our Pacific Heartbeat web page to find out more about looking after your heart.