Exercise your way to a healthy heart

Exercise for a healthy heartAccording to statistics, every 26 minutes, an Australian loses their life to heart disease. That’s 55 Australians every day or around 20,046 people a year.

Heart disease — also known as Ischaemic heart disease (IHD), coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD) refers to an inadequate supply of blood flowing to the heart.

This is a serious condition which can lead to angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Arteries which take blood to the heart can become blocked with a build-up of deposits such as cholesterol, fibrous tissue and calcification. These deposits harden and cause the arteries to narrow. This process is called atherosclerosis.

The good news is that YOU can do a lot to protect the health of your heart. One of the most important is getting regular exercise.

How exercise helps your heart

According to the Heart Foundation, regular exercise is important for:

  • preventing heart disease
  • reducing your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke
  • rehabilitation after a heart attack
  • reducing stress, depression and anxiety, which are risk factors for heart disease
  • weight control (overweight and obesity are risks for heart disease).

How much exercise?

The Heart Foundation recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. This can be in 30-minute blocks or even three 10-minute blocks. The aim should be to build up to a total of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity activity every week.

Exercise for a healthy heartWhat type of exercise?

All physical activity is great, but for heart health, moderate activity is recommended. Moderate intensity will cause you to feel warmer (maybe even sweat), breathe harder and raise your heart rate. However, you should still be able to talk.

Some great ideas for activity include walking, tennis, dancing, gardening, cycling, swimming, team sports and even housework and work around the yard.

However, if you have a health problem or have not exercised for a while, it’s wise to get the all-clear from your GP before embarking on a program.

So get up off the couch and get your heart pumping for good health.

Further information

Heart Foundation

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Epilepsy explained

Write Way to HealthToday (26 March) is Purple Day.

It’s an international awareness day for epilepsy, a condition that is suffered by around one per cent of the population. That’s about 65 million people worldwide, including 400,000 Australians.

Traditionally epilepsy has been a hidden condition due to stigma and discrimination, often caused by a misunderstanding of the condition. Purple Day is designed to increase awareness of epilepsy and to help break down barriers and common misconceptions about the condition.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a brain condition characterised by recurrent seizures. It is not a disease; it is not a psychological disorder and it is not contagious.

While one in 10 people will experience at least one seizure in their lifetime, epilepsy is defined by multiple seizures.

Who gets epilepsy?

Anyone can develop epilepsy, however onset occurs usually during childhood or in older people. Sometimes people who developed seizures as a child can outgrow them. There is an increased risk of epilepsy in the elderly due to strokes and ageing of the brain.

Seizures explained

Our brain consists of billions of nerve cells (neurons) that communicate through electrical and chemical signals. When a sudden excessive electrical discharge occurs, it can interrupt the normal activity of nerve cells and a seizure may occur.

Seizure can take many different forms but overall, they cause a change in function of behaviour. The location of the brain where the abnormal electrical discharge occurs will determine the form the seizure will take. Seizures usually last seconds to minutes and can be:

  • Blank stares
  • Muscle spasms
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Altered awareness
  • Odd sensations
  • Convulsions

Seizures are classified according to their length, and the symptoms displayed during the seizure. It is important to classify the seizures as it helps determine the type of treatment required.

How is it diagnosed

Diagnosing epilepsy may be different for each patient. Doctors usually look at medical history, descriptions of what happens before, during and after the seizure. There are also a number of tests doctors use to diagnose, although not all patients will need all these tests. They include:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) — a recording of the electrical activity of the brain via small electrodes attached to the scalp. This procedure is painless.
  • Video EEG telemetry — usually patients are monitored for 24 hours via an EEG and video, while in hospital
  • Computerised axial topography (CT scan) — an examination of the brain structure to identify causes of epilepsy (i.e. stroke or tumour, etc.).
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI Scan) — a test that provides life-like pictures of the brain structure.
  • Neuropsychology — this evaluation involves interviews and testing with a psychologist to determine if epilepsy has affected your cognitive, language and spatial skills.

How is epilepsy treated?

Most cases of epilepsy are treated with anti-epileptic drugs. While these medications do not cure the condition, they do help suppress and manage seizures. Every case of epilepsy must be treated individually. If drug treatment is not successful, some patients may need to undergo surgery.

How can you help?

The prime goal of Epilepsy Australia is for everyone to be seizure aware. That means knowing what to do if someone you know has a seizure. A downloadable poster on Seizure first aid is available here.

You can also help by donating to Epilepsy Australia at  or purchasing some of their merchandise at

And of course, don’t forget to wear purple for Purple Day and stand up for epilepsy.

Further information

Purple Day

Epilepsy Australia

Raise a glass – to your kidney health

Kidney HealthWhen was the last time you thought about your kidneys?

Any day is a good day to think about them, however today (12 March) is World Kidney Day — a day devoted to raise awareness of how important our kidneys are to overall health.

What do kidneys do?

Your kidneys play a vital role. Bean-shaped and about the size of your first, these two organs are located near the middle of your back, just below the ribcage.

As well as forming part of our urinary system, our kidneys perform a host of other functions. For example:

  • They remove waste from the body and eliminate it in the urine
  • Over a day, your kidneys filter around 200 litres of blood and produce between one and two litres of urine.
  • They regulate the body’s fluids and maintain the perfect electrolytes, ensuring the health of every organ in the body.
  • They produce a number of hormones that stimulate the production of red blood cells, help control blood pressure and convert inactive vitamin D to a form the body can use.

Who would have thought they could do all of that?

How to keep your kidneys healthy

Our kidneys work hard all the time. Ensuring they function properly is key to maintaining good health. Here are the things you can do to keep yours in tip-top condition:

  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be active for more than 30 minutes on most days
  • Eat a balanced diet low in saturated fats
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Manage your diabetes (if you have it).

Drink water for kidney healthYou should also have regular kidney function tests if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity
  • One of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
  • You are of African, Asian or Aboriginal descent.

So on World Kidney Day, raise a glass….of water….and drink to your kidney health.

Further information

World Kidney Day

Kidney Health Australia