Top tips for a healthy heart
Coronary heart disease kills around 94,000 people in Britain each year, with approximately one in five men and one in seven women dying from the disease. As the UK’s biggest killer, millions of people are at risk. Chris Gregory, cardiac physiologist at Spire Bristol Hospital, has some top tips about how to keep your heart healthy.
Five things you can start doing today
1. Eat well
A healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg is the cornerstone of maintaining a healthy heart, and a good diet can also help you on your way to a speedy recovery following heart disease. Try to include plenty of oily fish in your diet as this contains Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fatty acid that's thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease. Cut down on high sugar and fatty foods and instead fill up on protein, wholegrain starchy foods and fruit and vegetables.
2. Get fit
Your heart is a muscle which needs to be trained to keep it in tip-top condition. If you’re new to exercise start off slowly with a walk around the park or a bike ride. Any exercise that increases your pulse will be strengthening your heart and helping it pump fresh, oxygenated blood to your muscles.
3. Lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure increases the risk of having a stroke or heart attack, so it’s important to keeps a regular check on your blood pressure and take steps to keep it healthy.
4. Know your history
Family history is important as you’re at more risk of heart disease if your close relatives have also suffered from it.
5. Understand the signs
Don’t hesitate to call a doctor if you think you or a loved one is suffering from heart disease. An angina attack is often the first sign of heart disease and can feel like a tight, dull or heavy pain or discomfort in the chest. Sometimes it may spread to your neck or left arm and it can be worse during cold weather. For more information on heart disease and signs to look out for visit the Spire website.
Five things to cut out, starting today
6. Reduce salt
Consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure so it’s important to limit your intake. Nuts, crisps, pizza and ready meals all contain a high level of salt, and you should always check the packaging because many processed products contain hidden salt.
7. Weigh in
People know that being very overweight is not healthy and where your heart is concerned a normal weight is essential to avoid putting extra strain on your body including your heart. Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference and exercise is key.
8. Stop smoking
Smoking is disastrous for your health and smokers are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks than non-smokers. As soon as you quit, your risk of heart disease begins to drop dramatically.
9. Reduce stress
Stress affects your behavior. It places a strain on your health and can lead people to drink and smoke more, so it’s important to manage your stress levels.
10. Cut down on alcohol
Binge drinking increases the risk of a heart attack and over a long period of time over-consumption of alcohol can seriously damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and also lead to weight gain. Be sensible and adhere to the guidance.