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Heart health by numbers

Some risks for cardiovascular disease can’t be changed, such as age and family history, but many are lifestyle-related, which is good news – you have the power to reduce your risk(1). This is vital given that heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australians(2). Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating well are some of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Keep the following numbers in mind.

25(Body Mass Index)

25 is the cut-off for a healthy BMI. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in metres). The Australian Government’s Department of Health classifies a BMI of 18.5-24.9(3) as ‘healthy’, while anything below or above that as ‘unhealthy’. Above 30 is considered obese. While not a perfect measure, it’s still a good number to track as it may be an indicator to review your overall health.


30 minutes is the minimum exercise time to do at a moderate intensity five to seven days a week(4). Moderate intensity is any physical activity that’s sustained, such as brisk walking, jogging or swimming.

7 & 14(units)

The Mayo Clinic(5) recommends restricting alcohol to moderate consumption of 14 units a week for men and seven units a week for women. Alcohol increases triglycerides, the most common form of fat in the body – which can lead to increased chance of stroke, some cancers and heart disease as well as other diseases.


Less than 5 grams of sodium (salt) per day to help manage high blood pressure. In everyday foods – one teaspoon of soy sauce has about 300mg of sodium, and a 35g serve of corn flakes with half a cup of skim milk has 240mg of sodium. When shopping, look for low-sodium products, those with 120mg or less of sodium per 100g serving.

To determine your blood pressure levels, see your GP. A normal reading is 120-129 over 80-84. Anything higher is categorised as ‘high normal’ followed by ‘grades 1-3 hypertension’.


Women and men with a waist circumference of 80cm and 94cm(6) or more respectively have an increased risk of developing chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.

1. www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/heart-attack-risk-factors

2. www.heartfoundation.org.au/news/heart-disease-still-australias-number-one-killer

3. www.healthdirect.gov.au/body-mass-index-bmi-and-waist-circumference

4. www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/

5. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551

6. www.healthdirect.gov.au/body-mass-index-bmi-and-waist-circumference

Source: MLC

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