Every hour of every day a woman loses her life to heart disease, and throughout the month of June, the Heart Foundation has initiated their campaign, -Making the Invisible Visible – Women and Heart Disease', to raise further awareness to help save the women we love and care about.
According to the Heart Foundation, 350,000 Australian women live with cardiovascular disease, however only 27% of women have spoken to a GP about their heart health. Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is challenging all Australian women to make time to check their heart health and identify the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as physical inactivity.
'Physical activity in Australian women is at an all-time low, with close to 1.3 million undertaking no exercise at all. This is alarming as mounting research indicates that exercise decreases the risk of developing chronic conditions and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease," says Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.
Research by the Heart Foundation has found that, for the past 60 years, heart disease has been the leading cause of death of Australian women. The reality of this trend is that, even today, one in five deaths is still caused by, or attributed to, heart disease, and responsible for one in eight premature deaths in women.
With risk factors for cardiovascular disease including physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking and depression, statistics tell us that more than 1.3 million women, or 31%, have at least three of these risk factors, with close to 100,000 women having five or more.
'What's most concerning is that most Australian women don't appear to be aware of these risk factors, or what changes they can make to benefit their health, due to the low figure of women that are speaking with their GP," says Ms Hobson-Powell.
Increasing your physical activity can not only prevent development of cardiovascular disease, it can also help treat and alleviate symptoms of a number of cardiovascular conditions. Beth Sheehan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, explains that exercise does not have to involve heavy lifting, running a marathon or the latest HIIT programs to be beneficial for heart health.
'Regular low to moderate-intensity exercise, such as increasing your daily walking intensity, will assist individuals with cardiovascular conditions to assist in the prevention of blood vessels narrowing, decreases the risk of clotting and also assists in better delivery of blood to the heart. The co-morbidities and risk factors that contribute to the statistics will also improve."
It's recommended you consult an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before you commence exercise, as it is essential for exercise prescription to be individualised according to your unique needs, including functional capacity, physical limitations, exercise history and preferences.
Exercise can then be supervised by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, or if you have Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), this can also be supervised by an Accredited Exercise Scientist.
'Finding an appropriate exercise program tailored to the individual will also assist with reducing obesity, improving cholesterol and also assist with improving an individual's mental state. Women need to find an exercise program that suits their daily lifestyle, social needs, as well as appropriately targeting their health needs," Miss Sheehan adds.