Healthy Hearts pop-up clinics — a new initiative in Victoria, Queensland and NSW to fight cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading cause of mortality and morbidity among seniors in Australia. As we age, the cardiovascular system becomes more susceptible to various risk factors, making regular health checkups necessary for early detection and prevention.
In this blog post, we will have a closer look at Healthy Hearts, the need for seniors to undergo cardiovascular disease risk checkups and explore the most effective methods to build up the body against cardiovascular disease — ensuring a healthier and longer life.
The Healthy Hearts Programme
The Healthy Hearts programme is a joint undertaking of Wesfarmers Health and Novartis ANZ. The programme involves teams of registered pharmacists visiting certain locations in Victoria, Queensland, and NSW to set up pop-up clinics where the public can undergo free 15-minute screenings for cardiovascular risk, including BMI and blood cholesterol tests, with the associated treatment plans.
An early round of these checkups was carried out at 14 locations in rural Victoria, with 983 people tested. The data revealed that 85 per cent of them had at least one CVD risk factor such as obesity (84 per cent), high cholesterol (37 per cent), and high blood pressure (37.6 per cent). The results elicited concern from programme chief investigator Prof. Stephen Nicholls of the Victorian Heart Hospital.
“The heart health of those who have participated in the Healthy Hearts programme to date reveals a concerningly high prevalence of risk factors that remain uncontrolled. This serves as a wake-up call to develop better approaches to detecting the true level of risk in the community and effective strategies to then target them to lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke,” he said.
Healthy Hearts Pop-up Screening Locations 2023*
In the coming months, residents of these areas in Australia will have the opportunity to undergo heart health checkups:
- Shepparton Market Place, 27-29 July
- Broadmeadows Central, 25 August
- Elmore Field Days, Elmore Events Centre, Latrobe Health Stand, 3-5 October
- Wandin Silvan Field Days, Wandin East Recreation Reserve, Latrobe Health Stand, 13-15 October
- Bendigo Agricultural Show, Latrobe Health Stand, 27-29 October
- Central Square Ballarat Shopping Centre, 23-25 November
- Wendouree Shopping Centre, 6-8 December
- Moncrief, 22 August (location is yet to be confirmed)
New South Wales
- FIFA Fan Festival, Tumbalong Park
- 12 August, 3pm-8.30pm
- 15 August, 4pm-8pm
- 16 August, 5pm-8pm
- 19 August, 4pm-8pm
- 20 August, 6pm-10pm
*Locations are subject to change.
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries is processing appointments for the programme, through emails sent to email@example.com.
Benefits of Healthy Hearts Checkups
While some may be cautious about joining checkup projects like Healthy Hearts, here are a number of reasons why it may help you in the long run.
Many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes, often develop silently with no noticeable symptoms. Regular health checkups allow healthcare providers early detection of risk factors, enabling timely intervention and prevention.
Seniors are not immune to lifestyle changes or the onset of new health conditions. A comprehensive checkup helps create personalised prevention plans that address individual risk factors and health needs.
Early detection of cardiovascular risk factors can prevent the progression of heart disease and reduce the likelihood of severe complications, such as heart attacks or strokes.
By managing cardiovascular risk factors proactively, seniors can lead a healthier and more active lifestyle, with a reduced risk of developing heart-related problems.
For seniors already diagnosed with cardiovascular conditions, regular checkups allow healthcare providers to assess the effectiveness of medications and make necessary adjustments to improve treatment outcomes.
Effective Methods Against Cardiovascular Disease
- Healthy diet. Adopting a heart-healthy diet is fundamental for preventing cardiovascular disease. Seniors should focus on consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while limiting the intake of salt, sugar, and saturated and trans fats.
- Regular physical activity. Consistent physical activity is beneficial for heart health. Seniors should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for cardiovascular health. Seniors should aim to achieve and maintain a body mass index (BMI) within the healthy range.
- Manage stress. Chronic stress can negatively impact heart health. Seniors should practise stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies they enjoy.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a significant risk factor for CVD. Seniors should seek support and resources to quit smoking if they are still smokers.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to heart problems. Seniors should limit their alcohol intake to moderate levels, as recommended by healthcare professionals – or stop drinking alcohol altogether.
- Monitor blood pressure. Regular monitoring of blood pressure is essential for seniors, as hypertension is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Seniors should work closely with their healthcare providers to manage blood pressure levels effectively.
- Control cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels can lead to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Seniors should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly and work with healthcare providers to manage them effectively.
- Manage diabetes. For seniors with diabetes, proper management of blood glucose levels is crucial for heart health. Regular monitoring and adhering to treatment plans are essential.
- Adhere to medication regimens. Seniors with cardiovascular conditions should follow their prescribed medication regimens diligently. Skipping or adjusting medications without consulting healthcare providers can have adverse effects on heart health.
Taking care of our hearts becomes even more critical as we age. Cardiovascular disease risk checkups for seniors are significant for early detection and prevention of heart-related conditions. Joining initiatives such as Healthy Hearts may be a vital factor to addressing any lingering cardiovascular issues before things get worse.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management, and lifestyle modifications are all key factors in maintaining a strong and resilient cardiovascular system. Staying proactive and incorporating heart-healthy habits into their daily lives can help seniors build up their bodies against cardiovascular disease.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only and must not be considered as official medical advice. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no relationships with the Healthy Hearts Initiative and its organisers, nor any other seniors care provider or cardiovascular health professional. Please consult your doctor immediately.