Prioritise your heart health during REDFEB

February 6, 2024 BY

Eating five or more vegetables every day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 17 per cent. Photo: UNSPLASH

As well as encouraging people to wear red and donate, Heart Research Australia is raising awareness during REDFEB about how Australians can take control of their cardiovascular well-being without breaking the bank.

Heart Research Australia chief executive officer Nicci Dent said heart disease affected two in three Australians and remained the nation’s leading cause of death.

“Prioritising heart health is an investment in your future, both health-wise and financially.

“The financial implications of heart disease are not just limited to medical costs. Recovery from heart attacks often leads to lost wages, reduced work capacity, and hindered career advancement, due to the physical and mental effects of the condition. Furthermore, higher health insurance premiums and the rapid depletion of retirement savings pose long-term financial challenges.”

As the cost of living continues to rise, budgeting for health can often seem like a luxury. However, the financial implications of ignoring your heart health can be far more severe in the long run.

In 2019-20, $12.7 billion was allocated to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the Australian health system, representing 9.1% of the total expenditure.

More than two-thirds of this CVD expenditure, equivalent to $8.8 billion, went toward hospital services.

Physical activity is essential for heart health. Photo: UNSPLASH


“It is concerning, but not surprising, to hear that there has been a substantial decline in household spending on health insurance since interest rates began to rise,” Ms Dent said.

“In June 2023, this expense was 10 percent lower compared to the previous year. In the midst of the current economic climate, it is imperative to seek out cost-effective methods to safeguard your heart – as heart disease can impact anyone at any time. “In response to these challenges, Heart Research Australia is advocating affordable ways to maintain heart health.

Dr Avedis Ekmejian, a senior cardiologist and researcher supported by Heart Research Australia, provides these expert tips:

  • Eating heart-healthy foods – a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be costly. Focus on affordable staples such as beans, lentils, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods are not only nutritious but also easy on your wallet. Avoid excessive processed foods, sugary snacks, and fast food, which can be both unhealthy and costly. Eating five or more vegetables every day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 17 per cent
  • Staying active – four in five Australians don’t do enough exercise, yet physical activity is essential for heart health. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to stay fit. Consider free or low-cost options such as walking, jogging, or home workouts. Gardening and household chores can also help you stay active while saving money. Try to be physically active for at least 2.5 hours every week, spreading it out over five or more days
  • Managing stress – chronic stress can take a toll on your heart. Finding cost-effective ways to manage stress is vital. Heart Research Australia recommend relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, which can be done at home or with minimal expenses. Spending time in nature or with loved ones can also provide emotional support without breaking the bank, and
  • Regular health check-ups – preventive care is key to maintaining heart health. While it may seem counterintuitive to spend money on doctor visits, regular check-ups can help detect issues early and save you money in the long run. Look for affordable healthcare options or community clinics in your area. Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Quitting smoking is not only beneficial for your health but also for your wallet. Seek free or low-cost resources to help you kick the habit.

Heart Research Australia invites all Australians to wear red this February and donate to fund vital research to combat heart disease.

For more information on REDFEB and to donate, head to heartresearch.com.au