Your heart pumps blood around your body through your arteries and veins. Blood contains oxygen and nutrients to keep your body working. When there’s something wrong with your heart or blood vessels, it’s known as heart (cardiovascular) disease. Heart attacks, angina and strokes are all forms of heart disease.
There are a number of factors that increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The good news is that you can change many of these to improve your health.
Risk factors that you can change:
Risk factors that you cannot change:
Many of the above risk factors show no warning symptoms. This means that most people can’t tell that their blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar are high without a check by a healthcare professional – like your Unichem Pharmacist.
Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your heart has to work to pump blood around your body. It’s represented by two numbers (eg 120/80mmHg). The first number (120) represents the systolic blood pressure – the peak pressure in your blood vessels when the heart beats. The second number (80) is the diastolic blood pressure – the peak pressure in your blood vessels when the heart rests between beats.
One in five adults has high blood pressure (hypertension) and most don’t know it. High blood pressure means your heart has to work harder to pump blood. There are usually no warning signs that your blood pressure is high and you may feel well – until damage occurs.
The only way to find out is to have your blood pressure measured. Our Pharmacists can give you a blood pressure test - no appointment needed.
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy material carried in the bloodstream. Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to build cell walls, and to make bile acids and sex hormones. Your liver makes most of the cholesterol in your body (75%) and takes the other 25% from the food you eat. There are two main types of cholesterol – LDL (the bad cholesterol) and HDL (the good cholesterol). If you have too much LDL cholesterol it can slowly build up in your artery walls (blood vessels), narrowing them and increasing your risk of a heart attack and stroke. The good HDL removes cholesterol from the artery walls, ready for the liver to break it down and reduce your risk.
A simple blood test, called a lipid profile, can state the levels of different types of cholesterol in your blood.
Following the same advice as above for lowering blood pressure is a good place to start.
You can further lower your cholesterol by:
A Heart Health Check (also called a cardiovascular risk assessment) will let you know your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Your Unichem Pharmacist can complete a basic risk assessment. They will:
If a cholesterol test is required, your Pharmacist will refer you to your doctor.
People without known risk factors:
Maori, Pacific or Indo-Asian people:
People with other known cardiovascular risk factors or at high risk of developing diabetes:
People with diabetes: