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Image of smiling Aboriginal woman holding a young child in her arms.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk of heart diseases than other Australians, being admitted into hospitals 60 per cent more and dying at 1.5 times the rate from heart conditions.

One in five or 20 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population have ongoing long-term heart conditions. It is also the greatest cause of death, accounting for 25 per cent of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Knowing the warning signs is essential in early prevention and heart health. The Heart Foundation has an excellent visual tool that helps to show these warning signs/symptoms of a heart attack which can be found here: Heart Attack Symptoms

Aunty Gloria’s story in the video below provides an example of what to do if you see someone showing signs of a heart attack.


What Causes Heart Conditions

While heart diseases can be genetically inherited, there are also many common lifestyle factors that contribute to having a high risk of heart disease.

Some of these factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Diabetes

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy                  

Diet: Eating nutritious food is another important factor in maintaining a healthy heart, as healthy foods provide your heart and body with the necessary vitamins and minerals as well as assisting in maintaining healthy body weight.

Some healthy foods to include in your diet are:

  • Nuts
  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Oily fish (e.g. tuna)
  • Lentils, split peas & beans (legumes)
  • Wholegrain bread & cereals


Image of person holding a heart shaped fruit bowl full of colourful fruit and vegetables with fitness equipment in the background.

Fitness: Staying active for at least 30 minutes a day is vital in maintaining a healthy heart, body and mind. To make it easier to remain active, it is important to find physical activities that you enjoy doing.

Some activities could include:

  • Walking
  • Participating in sport
  • Gardening
  • Riding bicycles
  • Going bush

How to get your heart health checked

Your local doctor (GP) is able to conduct a heart health check on you. They will help you to understand your risk level for having a heart attack or heart condition in the next 5 years and will provide some feedback on steps you need to take to improve your heart health. If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 35 years or older, you are eligible to have your heart health checked under Medicare.

If you need help finding a GP in your area, give IDEAS a call and our information officers would be more than happy to assist you.

Information sourced from:

Australian Bureau of Statistics
The Heart Foundation
The Senior
Australian Indigenous Health Info Net
NPS Medicinewise

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people please be advised that there may be images, videos or names of people on this website that are deceased, which may cause feelings of sorrow or sadness.