Researchers make heartfelt plea for your number

Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) teamed up with WSLHD Integrated and Community Health for World Heart Day.

Chances are you could rattle off a dozen birthdays and the weekend’s footy scores – but do you know your own numbers?

Researchers are asking Western Sydney residents to learn some key personal health numbers including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI).

Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) used World Heart Day (September 29) to raise awareness that heart disease is Australia’s number one killer.

WARC teamed up with the Integrated and Community Health team at Westmead Hospital on Friday to share healthy heart tips, give free blood pressure checks and encourage people to make a heart promise to eat more fruit and vegetables, exercise more often and quit smoking.

People were able to get the blood pressure checked on the spot in the Westmead Hospital main entrance.

Westmead cardiologist and WARC academic director Professor Clara Chow said while the increase in heart disease and risk is alarming, the good news is that many risk factors can be prevented by making just a few simple daily changes

“Unfortunately as a doctor I see the devastating outcomes of heart disease, but everyone can reduce their risk by reducing salt intake, doing more exercise, quitting smoking and eating more fruit and vegetables,” Prof Chow said.

“It’s important to talk to your doctor about your blood pressure and cholesterol, especially for those with high risk factors such as family history.”

People made simple ‘Heart Promises’ to look after their heart health as part of the My Heart, Your Heart campaign.

Hospital visitors and staff attended the stalls at Westmead Hospital to have their blood pressure checked, talk about healthy eating and salt alternatives, and think about fun exercise ideas by answering the question ‘What makes your heart beat?’

Visitors came up with answers including walking the dog, going for a swim, and kicking a footy around with the kids.

“It was good to know my blood pressure and what it should be – they wrote it down for me and I will discuss with my doctor. I also got some flyers giving tips of herbs to use instead of salt. I didn’t realise that salt caused high blood pressure” one visitor said.

Another visitor made a promise to her heart to exercise more often.

The National Heart Foundation helped support the event by providing healthy heart tips flyers.

“I like going for walks but it’s hard to find the time. The lady suggested I do three ten-minute walks a day instead of one long walk. So I am going to try walking around the block at lunch time,” she said.

Multicultural Health team leader Dipti Zachariah was one of the event organisers and encouraged people to find a doctor and talk to them regularly about your health.

There are many programs run across western Sydney supporting the community through wellbeing programs and activities to move your heart and love your heart,” Dipti said.

WARC was established by the University of Sydney in collaboration with Western Sydney Local Health District to specifically address the causes of chronic disease, with a focus on translational research that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of patients in western Sydney.