Some factors do increase your risk of heart-related issues, and unfortunately not much can be done about them. But that’s ok! It is important to know what they are and understand how they affect other factors that can minimise risk.

Age and Family History

Family History

Your family history of heart disease is a strong indicator of your own personal risk. If anyone from your family members has suffered from heart disease before the age of 60, you are at a greater risk of developing heart disease. While you can’t change your family’s background, you can reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle changes.

Unsure of your family history? Have a #FamilyHistree conversation!

Age

As you get older, your risk of heart disease increases. This is due to the stiffening of heart muscles which makes the heart less efficient in pumping blood around the body. You can find out your heart age by using this tool, developed by the British Heart Foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/check-your-heart-age

Gender

Heart disease is the single biggest killer of women.

Research shows that even when women are treated for heart disease, they have poorer outcomes and are statistically twice as likely to die in their first year after a heart attack than men.

Estrogen plays a major role in protecting women from heart disease. It keeps blood vessels flexible and improves the concentration of HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein), the ‘good’ cholesterol in the body.

Women can have an increased risk when their hormones start to change. This can be seen during menopause, when there is a drop in estrogen levels, or if they have surgery to have their ovaries removed.

Ethnicity

Your ethnic background can increase risk of heart disease.

The genetic makeup and environmental influences based on ethnic groups can predispose its members developing heart disease.

Indigenous Australians are 1.3 times more likely to have heart disease, stroke or blood vessel disease compared to non-indigenous Australians due to lifestyle factors. There is a 17-year life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians (11.5 years for males and 9.7 years for females), with heart disease being a significant contributor to this.

Recent data shows that the rate of obesity is generally much higher in Indigenous Australians compared to non-Indigenous Australians, particularly among women.

Evidence suggests that people from South Asian and African Caribbean backgrounds have increased the risk of heart complications compared to other ethnicities due to a higher prevalence of abdominal obesity, abnormal lipid levels, metabolic syndrome and quite often due to cooking habit with high saturated fat.