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The heart doesn’t cry out for attention as much as we need it to

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Are you a picture of health or a heart attack waiting to happen? Lifestyle Berwick Waters Homeowner John Elstub believed he was much closer to the former but learned a very different reality after attending a community wellness event that ended up saving his life.

Elstub enjoyed an active lifestyle, regularly going for walks, playing bowls and table tennis with friends. Weighing in at just over 70kgs he didn’t have any obvious markers of a heart-attack victim but soon discovered that “the heart often won’t tell you when it needs attention like other body parts do.”

After routine blood pressure and sugar tests at a Lifestyle Berwick Waters Wellness Expo in June 2018, the nurse sent him to his GP urgently. Further scans revealed an irregular heartbeat caused by several severe blockages and open-heart surgery followed. Thankfully, the surgery was a success and Elstub is now back to his active best. “If I’d not visited that nurse at the Lifestyle Wellness event, I probably wouldn’t be here today”.

The primary heart health conditions are cardio-vascular disease, heart-attack and heart disease. Cardio-vascular disease affects one in six Australians with risk factors including high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight, and physical inactivity. A heart attack occurs when a blood vessel supplying the heart is suddenly blocked completely, threatening to damage the heart muscle and its functions. Heart disease is our biggest health threat, greater even than breast cancer for women and prostate cancer for men.

You can control your heart health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and managing your stress levels, but John Elstub is a testament to the idea that it pays to get checked anyway, even if you have these under control. “Even if you’re feeling well, just go and get checked”, he implores. Indeed, the Heart Foundation recommends than anyone over the age of 45 should have a heart health check performed by their doctor at least every two years.

For anyone 45 years or older (30 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) who has not had a heart attack or stroke, an annual Heart Health Check is covered under Medicare. This is a great reminder to check in on a vital organ that may not cry for attention as often as we need it to.

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