It’s the leading cause of death in Australia, causing one third of all deaths. It kills an Australian every ten minutes. It affects one in five Australians, right now.


But what is Cardiovascular Disease?


Simply put, cardiovascular disease is disease of the heart (cardio-) and blood vessels (-vascular).


There are many types of cardiovascular disease including:


• Heart attack – when a blood clot forms in an already narrowed blood vessel supplying the heart, and completely blocks blood supply to part of the heart, causing the muscle to die. This can be life-threatening.


• Coronary heart disease – the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle are clogged and


narrowed, restricting blood flow to the heart.


  • Stroke – like a heart attack, but in the brain. When the supply of blood to an area of the brain is suddenly interrupted, the brain does not get the oxygen it needs. Damage to the brain can be fatal, or cause permanent or temporary disabilities.


  • Heart failure – this is when the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump blood effectively.


The good news is that you can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by controlling your risk factors. Cardiovascular risk factors are things that are known to increase your likelihood of suffering a stroke or heart attack.


Risk Factors That You Cannot Control


  • Age – as you get older, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases


  • Gender – cardiovascular disease is more common in men


  • A family history of cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular Risk Factors That You CAN Control: Tips for a Healthier Heart



Risk Factors That You Cannot Control


  • Age – as you get older, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases


  • Gender – cardiovascular disease is more common in men


  • A family history of cardiovascular disease



Even if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, this doesn’t have to be a death sentence. You can still make a difference to your heart health risk.


1. High blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessel walls, which may eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.


Visit your local Direct Chemist Outlet today for a FREE blood pressure check!


You can control your blood pressure by achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy balanced diet, and taking antihypertensive medication (if necessary).


2. High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia /dyslipidemia) can cause fatty deposits in the blood, potentially clogging arteries leading to stroke and heart attack. You can control your cholesterol by eating a healthy balanced diet, and by taking cholesterol-lowering medication (if necessary).


3. Smoking is known to increase your cardiovascular risk by increasing blood pressure and reducing oxygen in the blood. Tobacco smoke also damages blood vessel walls, leading to narrowing and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This makes blood clots more likely to form in the arteries to the brain and heart. Smoking also makes your blood “sticky” - which further increases the risk of blood clots forming.



The only healthy choice is to quit smoking – call the QUIT line on 13 18 48, or talk to your local Direct Chemist Outlet today!


4. Being inactive, overweight or both can increase your cardiovascular


risk. Eating a balanced diet filled with fresh foods is ideal. It is also important to maintain a balance between exercise and food intake; this helps to maintain a healthy body weight. People who are active have a healthier heart - try for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.*


5. Drinking too much alcohol increases your cardiovascular risk. For a healthy heart, limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 standard drinks a day.


6. If you have diabetes, keeping your blood glucose levels within the normal non-diabetic range will have a substantial benefit for your heart health.


Remember, heart disease is often preventable so make the changes today to improve your heart health for life.


For more information on heart health visit or call the Heart Foundation’s Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87.


*Ask your doctor about an exercise program that is suitable for you and your current health status.

DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.