Rugby league legend Kerrod Walters has visited the Coronary Care Unit at the Prince Charles Hospital to raise awareness of heart disease.

Walters suffered a heart attack last year and another health scare this year, proving that even fit, healthy people can be at risk of Australia’s biggest killer, heart disease.

Walters visited the Prince Charles Hospital to chat with heart patients alongside the hospital’s director of cardiology, Dr George Javorsky.

“We see young people in the wards all the time who thought heart disease was something that affected only older people and people who don’t look after themselves,” Dr Javorsky said. “Men typically won’t see a doctor unless they feel sick, but we really need to treat our bodies like we treat our cars. Regular maintenance will help you catch any problems early, before you’re broken down on the highway at night wondering if your roadside assistance cover has expired.”

Walters’ visit was timed to coincide with Men’s Health Week, which runs until June 15. Heart disease is directly responsible for around 17 per cent of male deaths in Australia, significantly higher than the number of women it kills.

Luckily, men don’t need to completely overhaul their lives to improve their health. In fact, Dr Javorsky says a few simple changes can lead to vast improvements.

“Adopting some new habits today and making them an ordinary part of your life is the easiest way to avoid having to see me in the future. Regular moderate exercise, like walking your dog every day or joining your local sports team, thinking about what you’re eating and how much, and quitting smoking are probably the three things that will make the biggest difference.”

Dr Javorsky recommends men see their GP every six months for a routine check-up, including weight and waist measurements, blood pressure and cholesterol checks.

For more info about The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation, visit tpchfoundation.org.au. For more info on Men’s Health Week, visit menshealthweek.org.au