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3 things that are seriously hurting your heart, according to a cardio surgeon.

Your heart. How is she?

If you're anything like us, you don't have a clue. She's just pumping away, doing her thing and y'know, keeping you ALIVE.

See, a lot of us don't really pay much attention to our cardiovascular health, do we? We kind of take it for granted until something goes wrong. Which seems kinda weird, because heart conditions are actually a pretty darn common thing for Australian women.

Watch: Model Bec Craven on the moment she found out she was getting a heart transplant. Post continuers below.


Video via Mamamia.

Just how common are they? 

"Over half a million Australian women have some form of heart disease, ranging from heart attacks, heart failure to common heart rhythm issues like atrial fibrillation, also called AF or AFib," said heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp.

"A lot of women don’t know that heart conditions can impact them; we still think it’s a disease of our fathers and brothers but heart disease is the leading cause of death for women."

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Just to put this into perspective, women are three times as likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer. 

Yep, wow.

The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make to help ensure your heart health. Here, we've rounded up three of the most common things that could be hurting your heart, according to Dr Stamp.

1. Not getting adequate sleep.

We all know that sleep is essential for your health, but did you know just how much a lack of sleep can affect your heart? 

Spoiler: A LOT.

"One thing I find people aren’t always aware of is the impact sleep can have on your heart health," said Dr Stamp.

"Poor sleep or sleep disorders can directly hurt your heart or make it harder to do those things like eat well and exercise that are protective for the heart."

According to research, chronic sleep deprivation can result in health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, obesity, diabetes, and stroke. 

So, yeah - it's pretty freakin' important.

2. Poor lifestyle habits.

It won't come as a shock that poor lifestyle habits can also wreak some serious havoc on your little ol' heart. 

Things like binge drinking, a bad diet and lack of exercise can lead to a number of serious health issues, including heart conditions.

"I think most people are aware the things like diet, exercise and smoking are all things that can place undue stress on your heart," said Dr Stamp.

Poor eating choices and food habits can include the over-consumption of certain foods, dietary deficiencies and excessive consumption of saturated fats and processed foods.

Along with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity, being a couch potato is up there as one of the top five risk factors for heart disease.

*Turns off Netflix*.

Just to put it into perspective, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than half of Australian adults are either not active at all or do not meet the recommended guidelines. 

Yikes.

3. Skipping regular check-ups.

When was the last time you had your heart health checked? Actually, don't... answer that.

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"Having your heart checked is not difficult or painful! Simple tests like having your blood pressure checked, your blood sugar to assess for diabetes and your cholesterol can be done quickly and easily by your GP and give you a good idea of your risk of heart disease," said Dr Stamp.

"However, if you’re not seeing your GP regularly, these checks can be missed."

"As mentioned earlier, atrial fibrillation is a great example of an extremely common heart condition that is often missed. In fact, there were over 72,000 hospitalisations with AFIb in 2018 alone."

72,000. That's huge, friends.

If you're one of those people who are really not great at the whole check-up thing, these days smart watches like Fitbit Sense come with ECG (electrocardiogram) apps, making it possible for you to analyse your own heart health. 

Pretty crazy, huh?

"I’m very excited at the introduction of wearable technology into our smart watches – an ECG app can allow us to check for a common heart rhythm issue called atrial fibrillation simply from your own wrist," said Dr Stamp.

"If it detects this problem, you’re able to show your doctor and this can help diagnosing what is a really common problem."

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Dr Stamp says that while the accuracy of these kinds of wearable technology is pretty good, it’s always important to remember to get checked by a health professional if you're concerned.

"Of course, even if it says that it’s fine and you feel unwell, it’s important to get checked out. However, the future of being able to check your heart could simply involved checking your watch, and this is amazing."

Things you can do to look after your heart.

The good news? There are some really easy changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart issues. 

"Simple is the key here – there's loads of advice floating around that is complicated, ineffective and unachievable to keep you healthy," said Dr Stamp.

Things like good nutrition and some form of daily exercise can go a long way towards lowering your risk of heart disease.

"Move your body – anything is great, eat a diet full of veggies, fruit, whole grains and healthy oils, sleep well and give up the smokes."

Above all? Help create awareness of the importance of heart health in women.

"Tell at least three women that you love to get their hearts checked and spread the word so that we can protect our hearts."

What do you do to look after your heart health? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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