IT'S HEART Week and HCF is pushing for more Australians to become heart health aware through its Victor Chang Heart Health Check booths.
Hugh Parkinson is a fellow who would have benefited from taking time out from his busy working week to attend one of these booths to check the heart health warning signals he was getting.
Had he had that check he might just have saved himself having to go through two heart attacks at the age of 53 and then living with a pacemaker.
Hugh is now 71 and feeling far better than he did when he had his heart attacks at 58, but only with some significant changes to his lifestyle.
"In my earlier days I probably thought I was invincible," Hugh said.
"In 1998 I was running a business and I had some very bad health habits."
He started his day at 5am with a cigarette and a cup of coffee before heading out to work on repairing white goods.
Day-time eating was usually replaced with continuous cigarettes until he hit the burger place on the way home for a quick bite and then a home-cooked dinner.
Don't ignore the signs
A week before the first heart attack he was surprised to find he was exhausted from lifting a heavy machine. On the weekend while he was moving house a chest pain came on. But he kept going.
When the crunch came he was working in the city, he was under pressure and worrying about the small things like having to rush back to the car before it cost him another $10 parking fee.
"I got the sweats, the pins and needles, and started to realise this was a bit more than a hot day," Hugh said.
"I started to drive home, but then I pulled up on the side of the road and called triple zero."
He admits he ignored some very obvious warning signs.
"I thought, it will be right and really I doesn't take much to see a GP. If I had gone to one and said I have chest pain, they probably would have checked out things and found my arteries were blocked," Hugh said.
"After the time in intensive care I gave up smoking." Hugh is now working on getting her daughter to stop smoking.
He's started walking every day for at least an hour and includes climbing stairs in his daily regime.
Improve your diet
No more no eating during the day for Hugh. He now tries to eat regularly throughout the day and he has improved the type of food he eats.
Reduce life's stresses
"I was living on stress, adrenaline and cigarettes," Hugh said.
Hugh is working hard to reduce his stresses and is confident enough now in his own health to advise his "uptight" son to do the same.
"I suggest to any males I know with belly fat, they should get a GP to check their blood pressure and cholesterol," Hugh said.
With heart disease remaining Australia's biggest killer, it's important all older Australians stay heart healthy by following these six steps -
- 1. Know the risk factors - smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and family history are just some of the risk factors to be aware of
- 2. Recognise the early warning signs of a heart attack
- 3. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and choose lean meats and poultry, and cut down on salt
- 4. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day
- 5. Curb your alcohol intake. No more than one or two standard alcoholic drinks per day is recommended
- 6. Quit smoking.
The Victor Chang Heart Health Checks look to detect conditions such as high blood pressure, glucose levels or elevated cholesterol early. The service also tries to educate users by encouraging them to know their blood pressure level.
HCF reports one in three people tested under this service have been referred to their GP.
The testing is available for free for HCF members.
You can find your nearest Victor Chang Hearth Health Check here.
The booths will be in HCF branches in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT throughout 2017.