One New Zealander dies from cardiovascular disease every 90 minutes. Sixteen deaths per day, and is New Zealand’s (and the world’s) number one killer.
Grim statistics, one to fear yet not one we can necessarily feel when we are at risk of it.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) encompasses all the terms used to describe all diseases and conditions involving the heart and blood vessels. It can affect anyone both young and old, and men and women. It is commonly thought of as a “man’s disease”, yet nearly 50 Kiwi women die of heart disease every week!
There are certain risk factors that cannot be changed, such as age, ethnicity, and family history. Adults aged 65 years and older are at greater risk as aging also causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. In New Zealand, the mortality rate for ischaemic heart disease among Maori is more than twice as high as non-Maori. Furthermore, in New Zealand’s Asian population, cardiovascular disease and diabetes rates were higher compared to the New Zealand European population. Family history can be a strong indicator of heart disease and is all relative starting with first-degree relatives (parents and siblings). However, there are certainly other areas that can be modified. Research has shown that a healthy lifestyle with eating well, keeping active and not smoking (or quitting if you do), may prevent up to 80 per cent of premature CVD, stroke, and diabetes.
It is never too early or too late to address factors that you can change. You need not be a gym-bunny or start being your own military-style food police. Don’t worry, I won’t be your food police either! My goal is to guide you and empower you in the right direction. What you do for your body, however, is your insurance policy for your health. Small and gradual changes can make a big difference in your overall health. It is long term, it is a journey, and the benefits may not be immediate. If a medical condition or event does occur, your body is in a better position to manage it. Or if you have not been caring for your body as well as you could be, it may be time to do a check-in and provide your body with some TLC.
You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) drive a car without an up to date warrant of fitness. Do your body the same justice, and keep your heart WOF in check. Visit your GP and they can do the necessary assessments and organise for appropriate blood tests. They will also advise you on how often your checks should be. The earlier the detection, the better. If it is appropriate with your GP, having it around your birthday may be easier to remember. Consider it a present for your soul, and for peace of mind. You only have one heart and one body.
For guidance on managing cardiovascular risks with diet and lifestyle, contact me to see how I can help.