Take good care of your heart

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(by Cherie Taylor | Rotorua DailyPost) After receiving a “wake-up call” from doctors, Hotorene Brown (Ngati Pikiao) is living a much healthier lifestyle these days.

When a Korowai Aroha heart nurse took the 36-year-old father’s blood pressure during a recent heart check, Mr Brown said he was told he should be in hospital. Now, he knows he is lucky he went to the doctor when he did.

“It was a real wake-up call for me,” he said.

He is speaking about his health in a bid to get people at risk to have heart checks during Heart Awareness and Appeal Week, which is this week.

Mr Brown told The Daily Post he had been thinking about going for a heart check after his 31-year-old cousin died from a heart attack.

However, his mum, Anihou Brown, died of cancer in July and he put it to the back of his mind while he was grieving.

But after shortness of breath and finding it difficult to walk up stairs, Mr Brown said he was pleased he made the appointment with the nurse and went for tests.

I just thought I was getting old,” he said. “Then I was starting to get pins and needles down my left side and the side of my face kept going numb. I didn’t do anything for a while but it just got worse.”

Doctors were frank with him, which frightened him into making healthy lifestyle choices.

“It was a real shock. I was numb. I thought this would happen to a 50-year-old, not me at 36 … They said they caught it in time,” he said. “They gave me two options – to do nothing and end up having a stroke in three months or to make lifestyle changes.”

He has cut down on eating meat from three times daily to three times weekly, regularly exercises and takes medication to lower his blood pressure.

With a low-fat diet of tuna, chicken and salads, Mr Brown said he feels a lot healthier these days and encourages others to have a heart health check.

“I feel so much better. There is no harm in asking for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way – it might cost you your life.”

Korowai Aroha chronic care nurse Tim Ryan said heart disease was a “silent killer” and those most at risk needed to be regularly checked. Maori men are among the highest sufferers of heart disease.

“It’s the number one killer in New Zealand. It can be genetic, ethnic, diet and a lack of exercise that causes it,” he said.

One way to avoid heart disease was to exercise.

“Remember to Push Play 30 minutes every day and eat less fat. Keep away from take-aways and boil up.

“If you smoke you are automatically at high risk.”

Anyone who suspected they could have heart problems should get themselves checked out.

Korowai Aroha is offering free heart checks at The Warehouse in Central Mall on Thursday between 1pm and 3pm during Heart Awareness Week.

Mr Ryan said he would encourage people to get there and have their blood pressure checked.

Who is most at risk from heart disease?

  • Smokers.
  • Maori men over the age of 35.
  • Maori women over the age of 45.
  • European men over the age of 45.
  • European women over the age of 55.
  • Fijian/Indian men over the age of 35.
  • Fijian/Indian women over the age of 45.
  • Pacific Islander men.
  • Pacific Island men.
  • Anyone with a family history of heart disease.
  • Overweight or obese men and women.

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