Media releases

April 22, 2004

Medibank Private investing in healthy hearts2

Medibank Private, proudly supporting the National Heart Foundation of Australia's Heart Week (May 2-8, 2004), is challenging Australians to get off the couch and get active to improve the health of their heart and general wellbeing.

Local Shepparton resident and Medibank Private member, Mr John Graham, is a huge advocate of this message after suddenly falling victim to heart disease late last year.

Mr Graham's life dramatically changed in October 2003 when he was rushed to St. Vincent's Private hospital in Melbourne to have a stent placed in his heart to save his life. Regular exercise, including a two kilometre walk each day, is now a vital part of his daily regime to strengthen and maintain the health of his heart.

According to a recent Medibank Private survey of its members, fitness or specific health reasons are the main motivations to undertake physical activity. However, only 26 per cent of those surveyed considered themselves to be quite fit and 61 per cent were not happy with their current weight. Many felt the juggling act of work, play, family, friends and health, left little time to be active as often as they would like.

The National Heart Foundation says people who do no physical activity are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease than those who regularly participate in moderate physical activity.
Medibank Private, Managing Director, George Savvides, said, "Heart disease in Australia places massive economic and social pressure on the community every year."

Mr Savvides reported that in 2003, Medibank Private paid out close to $225 million to members for cardiac-related procedures, which equals more than 13 per cent of the total benefits paid.
Mr Graham said, "The expense of my procedure has had both economical and lifestyle costs. I am adjusting to my new lifestyle, but if not for my Private Health Insurance, I don't know how I would've dealt with the economic cost."

Although Mr Graham admits to having always enjoyed an active and healthy lifestyle, his recent heart problems and recovery process have been a severe reminder that exercise is absolutely necessary in improving the health of your heart.
Around 10 per cent of Australian adults have three or more modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, which include: smoking, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and being overweight. The Heart Foundation recommends introducing 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk, on all or most days of the week. Thirty minutes can also be accumulated through smaller 10 minute sessions.

To help you achieve activity levels beneficial for a healthy heart, Medibank Private and the Heart Foundation, have produced the Healthy Eating and Activity Guide with simple tips on how to introduce regular activity and healthy eating into your lifestyle. The Guide features handy tables comparing healthy and unhealthy food options plus activity comparisons.

Mr Savvides said, "Our Heart Week participation is one of several key initiatives related to encouraging Australians to adopt a more physically active & healthy lifestyle. This is demonstrated through our sponsorship of the Australia Day Fun Runs this year."

Heart Foundation (Vic Division) Executive Director, Robyn Charlwood, said: "The aim of Heart Week is to encourage Australians to make small changes in their eating and physical activity habits so they can enjoy longer and healthier lives."

Ms Charlwood added: "With an Australian dying every 10 minutes from cardiovascular disease the message to Australians to incorporate regular physical activity and healthy eating into their lifestyles is more important than ever."

The Healthy Eating and Activity Guides are available in Medibank Private retail centres and from the Heart Foundation's Heartsite www.heartfoundation.com.au or
Heartline 1300 36 27 87.


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