Look after your heart this Valentine’s Day
From Warrandyte Diary, February 2018 edition
This is why Warrandyte’s own Dr Linda Worrall-Carter founded Her Heart in 2015. As CEO of Her Heart, Dr Worrall-Carter hopes women will take time for their health this February and is calling for Australian women to look after their heart in a different way this Valentine’s Day — by getting a heart health check from their GP.
Her Heart is a health promotion charity and registered not-forprofit that aims to educate women on the risks of heart disease.
“Many of us make New Year’s resolutions about our health, and this is a great way to honour that,” says Dr Worrall-Carter.
“Women are often juggling so many demands and end up putting themselves last on the priority list.
“We’re asking them to put themselves first and make time for this important health check.”
A heart health check includes your GP taking your blood pressure, measuring your height and weight (BMI), blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Dr Worrall-Carter says getting these checks can identify potentially deadly risk factors.
“90% of women have one risk factor and you only need one risk factor to have a heart attack,” she says.
Women need to know their risks but also be aware of the symptoms, which are different than those experienced by men.
Women don’t experience a typical ‘Hollywood heart attack’ with crushing central chest pain radiating down their arm. Instead, it can start with feeling generally tired, unwell and/or heaviness in their chest that goes up through the jaw.
They can also experience an ache in the arm that radiates through to the back and shoulder blades and feel short of breath or nauseous.
Even in 2018, heart disease is still considered a man’s disease and is medically assessed using men’s symptoms. This has proven fatal for women, who (when eventually diagnosed) are referred for fewer tests and treatments (such as an angiogram) and, post diagnosis, the statistics of recovery are worse. 42% of women who have suffered a heart attack die within the first year compared with 24% of men.
During recovery, women have more depression and are less likely to be referred to cardiac rehabilitation or prescribed the relevant drug therapy.
Her Heart aims to reduce deaths from heart disease by 50% by 2025.
“More people die from heart disease than all cancers combined, yet in Australia the
awareness is low.
“We want to put heart health on women’s radar,” says Dr Worrall-Carter. “It is my belief that through informing women about the need to look after their heart health, we can create a community of empowered women who will realise that it is necessary to put themselves first in order to be here for everyone else.”
Her Heart has quickly become the go-to-place for women to access health and lifestyle advice, the latest research and learn about the signs of a heart attack and how to prevent it. “Since launching three years ago, we have created a community of thousands of women around the world,” said Dr Worrall-Carter.
Before starting the charity, Dr Worrall-Carter was the Professor of Cardiac Nursing at a leading Victorian hospital and has been widely published in Australian and international health literature as well as having received funding of almost nine million dollars.
She is a founding member of the Australasian College of Cardiovascular Nurses and the Cardiovascular Nursing Council, and one of a small number of nurses who has been made a Fellow of the Cardiac Society of Australia and NZ, based on her
Since establishing Her Heart, Dr Worrall-Carter has been recognised for her efforts in
raising awareness about heart disease in women at the National Female Entrepreneur Awards in late 2015, where Her Heart was also awarded the Casey Kinnaird Community Award. An award that recognises that this is a global issue and that in a relatively short time Her Heart has reached over 128 different countries and gathered significant momentum.
On a personal level, Dr Worrall-Carter has a family history of heart disease (father and aunts) and urges many family (and friends) to become proactive and improve their heart health.