[BLOG] Heart Health: Looking after your Ticker

Published: 22/05/2019

In our latest blog for Heart Month we’re looking at the facts and stats around heart health with lots of ideas of how to look after your ticker.

In our latest blog for Heart Month we’re looking at the facts and stats around heart health with lots of ideas of how to look after your ticker.
 
Did you know that Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the UK's biggest killer? Every year it is the cause of around 73,000 deaths; that’s an average of one person every 7 minutes.
 
The NHS has released figures that show almost 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women die from coronary heart disease, but they believe things could be very different.
 
Of the 73,000 deaths per year from CHD, 32% of those people were under the age of 75. Most of these deaths were preventable and later in the blog we will provide simple steps which people can take to reduce their risk of developing heart disease. 

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) happens when the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced caused by a narrowing or blockage of the arteries taking blood to the heart. This is caused by a gradual build-up of fatty deposits inside arteries.
 

What factors increase the risk of Coronary heart disease?

Several factors increase the risk of a person developing CHD, including:
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy and unbalanced diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Type 2 diabetes
 
By maintaining a healthy diet with regular exercise can help to keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels, and improve your heart health.
 
A healthy lifestyle also lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and can help prevent other health problems, such as kidney disease and some cancers.
 
There are some factors that you cannot change that put you at greater risk of CHD:
  • Family history of heart disease – if your father, mother, brother or sister has, or had, coronary heart disease or a stroke when they were under 65 for women or under 55 for men
  • Ethnic background – the risk of South Asian people in the UK dying from CHD is up to 50% higher than for white people, while people from an African Caribbean background are more likely to have high blood pressure, which means you're more likely to develop CHD
  • Age – the likelihood of CHD increases as you grow older
  • Gender – men are more likely to develop CHD at an earlier age than women
 
If you find yourself in a high-risk category, you can still reduce your risk by making lifestyle changes to help protect your heart:

 

Top 10 Healthy Heart Tips

 
A healthy lifestyle = a healthier heart. Take a look at these 10 things you can do to look after your heart
 

1. Give up smoking

If you're a smoker, quit. It's the single best thing you can do for your heart health. Smoking is known to be one of the main causes of CHD.

Just one year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
 

2. Get active

Staying active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week or about 30 minutes of activity five days a week.
 

3. Manage your weight

Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
 

4. Eat more fibre

Eat at least 30g of fibre a day to help lower your risk of heart disease. Fibre can be found in a variety of sources, from wholemeal bread, to oats and wholegrain cereals, potatoes with their skins on, and of course, plenty of fruit and vegetables.
 

5. Cut down on saturated fat

The level of cholesterol in your blood is raised when your diet contains too many foods that are high in saturated fat. Choose leaner cuts of meat and lower-fat dairy products like 1% fat milk.
 

6. Get your 5 A DAY

Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. They're a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
 

7. Cut down on salt

To maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using too much salt when cooking or at the table. Also, don’t forget to watch out for those ready-made foods which have really high salt levels. You can be more salt aware by checking food labels – a food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g.
 
Aim to eat less than 6g of salt a day in total – that's about one teaspoon.
 

8. Eat fish

Eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish (such as mackerel, fresh tuna, sardines and salmon). They are also a good source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.
 

9. Drink less alcohol

Don't forget alcohol contains calories! If you are regularly drinking more than the NHS guidelines you will notice the impact on your waistline. Try to keep to the recommended daily alcohol limits to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health.
 

10. Snack on nuts and seeds

By eating a mixture of unsalted nuts and seeds for snacks (in small amounts) you are adding good unsaturated fats into your diet, helping you to stay fuller for longer but also helping to lower your cholesterol level.
 

If you are worried about your Heart Health visit the NHS website and take the "Heart Age" test to find out how healthy your heart is and if your heart age is higher or lower than your actual age. 

Anyone over 30 can use the tool, even if you don't know your blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Click below to take the test: