Cardiovascular disease

The Heart Foundation is promoting awareness about cardiovascular disease during Heart Week 1-7 May  2011. Cardiovascular disease affects men and women and is the leading cause of death in Australia, and the second leading cause of disease burden. In 2008, CVD was the underlying cause of 34% of all deaths in Australia (48,456 deaths). Living with cardiovascular disease can cause some restrictions in lifestyle so it is important reduce any risk factors and if living with cardiovascular disease, manage your condition well.¹

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease refers to diseases of the heart and blood vessels and can include coronary artery disease (heart disease), stroke and other diseases of the vascular system (arteries and veins).

One factor which can cause coronary artery disease and stroke is the narrowing of the arteries which is called atherosclerosis. This narrowing of the arteries is caused by a buildup of fatty substances on the artery walls. This slow buildup of fatty substances (plaques) can eventually block the blood flow or pieces of plaque can break of and travel down the arteries and block another area of the blood vessels. If this blockage occurs in the heart it can cause a heart attack and if it occurs in the brain it can cause a stroke.

Am I at risk of cardiovascular disease?

There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease and these can be split into two groups: modifiable (risk factors you can change) and un- modifiable (risk factors you can’t change).

Modifiable risk factors include:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • High Blood pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Depression and stress
  • Type 2 diabetes

Un-modifiable risk factors include:

  • Family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure
  • Age and gender
  • Ethnicity

What can you do?

  • If you have any of the above risk factors it’s important to reduce these and begin making healthy changes to your lifestyle. You can do this with the help of your doctor and other health professionals including Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) and other allied health professionals.
  • Also if any of your friends, family or co-workers are trying to make changes to their lifestyle it is important you jump on board and be supportive. A supportive environment can help people make changes more easily and this may help reduce their risk factors.
  • Nutted Out Nutrition’s dietitians are specialists in cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions including diabetes. We are well placed to help you reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease or if you have already been diagnosed then we can help you manage your condition. We are also able to provide information sessions to workplaces on a range of nutrition and healthy lifestyle topics including cardiovascular disease. This is a great opportunity to help your employees improve their health and for you to reduce the disease burden for your business.
  • Get on board and support the Heart Foundation. Visit to see how you can help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and support an organisation in their research into cardiovascular disease.


  1. Department of Health and Aging

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