Be your own Heart Health Hero

2-6 September 2019 is Women’s Health Week.

The two biggest barriers for women not maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ‘lack of time’ and ‘health not being a priority’. Women’s Health Week is the time to do something for your health and start making positive changes that can last a lifetime. At Jessie McPherson Private we wanted to take this opportunity to talk to you about Heart Disease.

Heart Disease in Women

Heart disease is the number-one killer of women in Australia. And while there are risk factors for heart disease that we can’t do much about, such as our age, sex and family history, there are many other factors that are within our power to change.

Did you know?

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australian women
  • 90% of women in Australia have at least one risk factor for heart disease
  • Women are 4 times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer
  • 2/3 of women are not aware heart disease is such a risk for them


Heart Disease in Women

There are three main types of cardiovascular disease (CVD): stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure (learn more about these conditions at the end of this article).

Many people think that cardiovascular disease is more likely to be associated with men; however, one type of CVD, coronary heart disease, causes more deaths in women than men in Australia. CVD can occur at any age. However, for most women, the risk of developing CVD increases significantly around the menopause.

There is no one cause for CVD, but there are many factors that can increase your risk of developing CVD. We cannot do much about some risk factors such as age, gender or family history but risk factors that can be reduced through lifestyle include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, diabetes and depression.

Heart Health

Making changes to improve your heart health

The way to prevent cardiovascular disease is to do something about the causes that put you at risk.

  • Know and understand your blood pressure numbers – get regular checks.
  • Know and understand your cholesterol levels – get regular checks.
  • Try a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, low fat dairy foods, nuts, wholegrains, fish, chicken and lean meat, keeping saturated fats and salt to a minimum – this type of diet can help reduce blood pressure.
  • Soluble fibre is important in lowering LDL cholesterol, so include foods such as rolled oats, muesli, oat and rice bran, barley, legumes, fruit and vegetables.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days.
  • It is recommended people with high blood pressure don’t have more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per day.
  • Take steps to manage your weight if you are above a healthy weight.
  • Depression and diabetes have been linked to cardiovascular disease so it is important to manage these conditions
  • Some medications will help to lower cholesterol and manage high blood pressure – discuss medications with your doctor
  • A doctor is your best source of information:
      • Cardiologists to test and monitor your heart
      • Dietitians to help with weight management and healthy eating
      • Psychologists if you have feelings of depression or loneliness
      • Exercise physiologists to help identify the right physical activity for your age and lifestyle
      • Naturopaths for advice about supplements and vitamins

Blood Pressure Checks

Jessie McPherson Private and Monash Heart Cardiologist Dr Sarah Zaman leads research on the recognition and management of heart disease in women. Sarah recently presented on Sex differences in Acute Coronary Syndromes and took part as an expert panel member at the Women and Heart Disease Forum 2019.

You can view Dr Zaman’s profile in the specialist directory here.

Knowing what causes cardiovascular disease is the first step. The next step is knowing how to reduce the risk of developing it. Be your own heart health champion and make changes today. You can visit the Women’s Health Week website here to learn more.



Facts on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is the general term used to include diseases of the heart (cardio) and of the blood vessels (veins and arteries).

While most cardiovascular diseases involve the heart, conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), involve blood supply to other parts of the body, such as the legs and brain.

Types of cardiovascular disease


A widening or bulge in an artery or vein that can burst.


Discomfort or chest pain caused by lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle.


The gradual build-up of fatty deposits, (plaque), on the inner walls of the arteries. It causes arteries to narrow resulting in reduced blood flow to the heart and other organs. It can cause angina, heart attack and stroke.

Coronary heart disease

When atherosclerosis affects the arteries of the heart it is called coronary heart disease.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Occurs when a clot forms in a vein situated deep in the body.

Heart attack

Occurs when an artery to the heart becomes completely blocked and blood flow is stopped to part of the heart muscle.

High blood pressure

Continuously high blood pressure can damage arteries, the heart and other organs and adds to the risk of having a heart attack and stroke.


If an artery to the brain becomes blocked, or brain blood vessels bleed, severe loss of blood and damage to that part of the brain may cause loss of consciousness, weakness, numbness, paralysis, dizziness, loss of balance, blurred or decreased vision, and difficulty in speaking or understanding.


Information in this article was taken from the Jean Hailes Cardiovascular Health Factsheet. The factsheet is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.

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