Heart disease is the number one cause of Australian deaths1. This is an alarming statistic as it is possible to reduce heart disease risk. Our previous blogs looked into Australian heart disease statistics and how heart disease can strike at any age. In this blog, we’ll identify a few options to help reduce heart disease risk. 

Reduce Smoking

If you’re a smoker, then it’s best to avoid smoking altogether. In Australia, tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease2. Here are some statistics on smoking that the Australian Bureau of Statistics gathered2:

  • In 2003, tobacco was responsible for 15,000 deaths
  • Over 2014-15, 14.5% of adults aged 18+ were daily smokers
  • Males are more likely to be smokers
  • Number of daily smoking rates have been decreasing each year

There could be a few reasons for the decreasing smoking rate. The first could be due to a greater understanding of the dangers of smoking. The other reason could be due to the tobacco excise increase, which has increased multiple times over the past decade3 


How much exercise do you put in each week? A recent study concluded that not exercising was worse for your health than smoking and diabetes4! The study revealed that fitness leads to a longer life and exercise benefits can be experienced at any age. When comparing those with a sedentary lifestyle to the top exercise performers, the death risk rate was 500% higher4. A sedentary lifestyle is a disease with the best prescription being exercise.

In fact, another study recently determined that only a fraction of people were doing the recommended exercise amounts. Those aged 13-17 should be doing at least 60 minutes a day, those aged 18-64 should be doing 150 minutes over 5 sessions per week and 65+ year olds need to do at least 30 minutes each day5.

The best part with exercising is that 18-64 year olds can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, improve their blood pressure, build stronger muscles/bones and develop physical/mental well-being6. For older adults, it helps them relax, provides energy, reduces stress/anxiety, and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers6.

Spending time with family/friends

Do you have a supportive and dependable network of people around you? These groups can reduce the risk of experiencing social isolation and depression. If you’re struggling to find a suitable option, then there are other opportunities out there for you.

If you have a hobby, join a team/club that supports your hobby. This will provide you with an opportunity to join a group of people with a similar interest. Social opportunities will open up for you while you do something you enjoy.

If you’re experiencing emotional stress, you should seek help. If you don’t have the right group of family or friends, try to reach out to people who have gone through a similar experience7. Just remember to look after yourself and think about how you’ve overcome any challenges in the past.

Healthy diet

A healthy diet can help keep your heart healthy. The best way to approach your diet is by incorporating low levels of sodium (think Heart SALT) and reduced fat foods. This can entail a diet containing vegetables, healthy fats/oils, 2-3 servings of fish/seafood each week and drinking a lot of water8. It’s also important to have the right balance of nutrients in your diet. They will help reduce the risk of developing diseases and also help keep your body in shape. You can find out more about the importance of nutrition in our blog here.

Reduce your heart disease risk today

The four key areas to reduce your heart disease risk is by reducing your smoking (or stopping altogether), exercising daily, having a supportive group of family/friends and having a healthy diet. By focusing on all these areas, you get closer towards living a long and healthy life. As always, please see a doctor or health practitioner for further advice on how you can reduce your heart disease risk. 

Start living healthy with Heart SALT

  1. National Heart Foundation of Australia, Heart disease in Australia, <https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/about-us/what-we-do/heart-disease-in-australia>
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, Smoking, 4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15, Canberra, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Main%20Features~Smoking~24>
  3. Department of Health 2018, Smoking prevalence rates, Canberra, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-control-toc~smoking-rates>
  4. Drash, W 2018, Not exercising worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease, study reveals, CNN, <https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/19/health/study-not-exercising-worse-than-smoking/index.html>
  5. Taylor, T. 2018, Chart of the day: No one’s moving enough, but teens fare the worst, ABC, <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-17/physical-activity-guidelines-hardly-anyone-moving-enough/10231096>
  6. Department of Health 2017, Physical Activity, Canberra, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/phy-activity>
  7. National Heart Foundation of Australia, Managing Emotional Stress, <https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/after-my-heart-attack/heart-attack-recovery/managing-your-emotional-and-social-life>
  8. National Heart Foundation of Australia, Meals and food, <https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/after-my-heart-attack/heart-attack-recovery/meals-and-food>