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The best thing you can do to find out about your risk of heart disease is to see your GP for a heart health check. A heart health check can be done as part of a normal check up with your doctor at Windsor & Oakden Medical Centres.

You may not be aware you have risk factors of heart disease early enough. Often there are no symptoms. So it’s really important to get your doctor to check your risks frequently, to ensure your heart is healthy.

We strongly recommend having a heart health check if you’re over 45 years old, and over 35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Your doctor will take blood tests, check your blood pressure and ask you about your lifestyle and your family (your grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters).

Give your doctor as much information about your lifestyle and family history as possible.

Blood Pressure: A “golden number” for any individual’s blood pressure is based on your age and medical history. Ideally, it shouldn’t be any higher than 140 / 90 mmHg but if you have a more complicated medical history your GP will aim for a target blood pressure of 120 / 90 mmHg. You can lower your Blood Pressure through decreasing stresses, regular exercise & if necessary medication. You should have your Blood Pressure checked at every consultation but at least annually if you don’t visit a Doctor often.

Cholesterol: Your GP will check your cholesterol level, amongst other things, annually if you have a higher risk of Cardiovascular Disease or a significant family history. Cholesterol can be broken down into “good” & “bad” cholesterol. “Bad” cholesterol clogs our arteries and can lead to heart attacks & strokes, so it is important to keep LDL levels down meanwhile the “good” cholesterol (HDL) helps to wash away the bad cholesterol. Speak to your GP for advice on what food fats are good or bad in your diet.

Waist Circumference: Measuring your waist may appear to be an unusual test for your heart but it is a good indicator of how significant your risk is for many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease & diabetes. Women should have a waist circumference less than 80 cm & men less than 94 cm. The bigger your waist, the higher your risk. If you have excess fat around your middle, you can guarantee it is coating your organs and that includes your heart.

ECG (electrocardiogram): This is a non-invasive & painless medical test that involves putting electrodes on your chest & detecting the heart’s electrical activity. It can detect any abnormalities such as rate changes (slow or fast heart beat), palpitations, damage from previous (or current!) heart attacks and much more! If you are over 50 years old and have a significant risk or family history, an ECG may be performed every year or so.

Dr John Pride is a GP at Windsor Village & Oakden Medical Centres

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