Barriers To Heart Health For Aboriginal Women
- GPs and Health professionals will speak less to their female Aboriginal patients about healthy lifestyle topics including: healthy eating, reducing or quitting smoking, maintaining moderate alcohol consumption and increasing physical activity levels.
- Preventative care is an area that needs more emphasis for Aboriginal women, as they are more likely to be hospitalised for an admission that is preventable.
- Only 51.6 per 100,000 doctors are Aboriginal women, which could be a barrier for Aboriginal women seeking to see an Aboriginal female practitioner for culturally appropriate care.
- If care is not culturally appropriate, it is less likely that high quality healthcare can be provided for Aboriginal women.
What are your risk factors for heart disease?
Environment: your living environment can contribute to some heart diseases such as ARF/RHD, as crowded living conditions can increase the chances of catching infections that affect your heart.
Diet: not eating a traditional diet is having a big impact on your health. Traditional foods high in protein and good fats have now been replaced with high fat, salt and sugary foods. 54% of Aboriginal people eat enough fruit every day and only 8% eat enough vegetables.
Exercise: Aboriginal women in both remote and non-remote regions were not getting enough exercise every week, with guidelines suggesting either 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily or 150 minutes per week.
Body weight: having a healthy body weight is an important protector against chronic diseases such as heart disease (see the know your numbers page). Whilst Aboriginal men are more likely to be overweight, Aboriginal women are more likely to be obese.
Smoking: smoking is an important risk factor for many chronic health conditions including heart disease. Aboriginal women report smoking rates at around 36%, which is less than Aboriginal men.
Alcohol: drinking is a big risk factor for many health conditions and social problems. Whilst Aboriginal populations are less likely to drink than non-Aboriginal populations, Aboriginal populations are more likely to experience harm when consuming alcohol. Aboriginal women are 3.4x more likely to be hospitalised from alcohol harm than non-Aboriginal women.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure: having higher cholesterol is a risk as extra fatty plaque lines the arteries of your heart (restricting blood flow). If your blood pressure is too high your heart must work extra hard to pump blood in the body.
Diabetes: having diabetes increases your risk of having heart problems in the future too, particularly if your diabetes is not managed and controlled.