World Heart Day: Knowledge saves lives


Ian Moncrieff knows from personal experience to take heart health seriously – and never ignore the warning signs of trouble.

The 84-year-old from Perth has had two cardiac scares this year, and they both required surgery.

The first time he went to his General Practitioner (GP) after feeling a pressure across his chest, and was sent for a CT coronary angiogram that revealed he needed to have two stents inserted in his heart. 

Five months later, he experienced chest pain during his cardiac rehabilitation exercise program, and was admitted to hospital due to a heart attack, requiring two more stents and a pacemaker for an abnormal heartbeat. 

“Originally, I just felt a crushing feeling in my chest and a pain down the inside of my arm,” Mr Moncrieff said. 

“I had no idea I could have been in serious danger. It was more serious than I thought.” 

Knowing your risk of heart disease and acting on the symptoms were key messages for World Heart Day 2021 on Wednesday 29 September.

Heart disease affects more than four million Australians, causing one in four deaths and killing around 40 percent more males than females. 

Tracy Swanson, a Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse Specialist at Perth’s Hollywood Private Hospital, said increased awareness of the condition is helping patients like Mr Moncrieff survive what could otherwise have been fatal heart attacks.

“Fortunately, due to research into risk factors, medications and interventions, deaths from heart disease have been declining,” she said. 

“It is really important to know your risk factors and the symptoms of heart disease and to see your GP, even if your symptoms seem minor.” 

Ms Swanson said risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke can be modified with treatment, and she urged people to get a heart health check from their GP. 

Some of the risk factors include: 

∙ Smoking – increases the stiffness of the blood vessels, making it harder for them to expand and contract as needed. 

∙ Unhealthy diet – a lack of fruit and vegetables increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, while high consumption of salt, saturated fat and trans-fats are also linked to bigger risks. 

∙ High cholesterol – excess cholesterol causes arteries to narrow or block leading to heart and other diseases. 

∙ High blood pressure – can damage arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. 

∙ Diabetes – increases the risk of high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, heart disease and stroke. 

∙ Physical inactivity – can lead to fatty material clogging the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. 

The symptoms of heart problems include: 

∙ Chest discomfort or pain. 

∙ Dizziness, light-headedness or feeling faint.

∙ Nausea, indigestion or vomiting. 

∙ Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. 

∙ Sweating. 

Ramsay Health Care, which owns Hollywood Private Hospital, is raising awareness about cardiac health with World Heart Day events at Perth’s Claremont Quarter and Lakeside Joondalup shopping centres. 

Staff will be meeting with members of the community to discuss heart health, cardiovascular risk factors, warning signs and when to see a GP. 

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