Keeping your heart healthy
Wednesday 6 September 2017

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of death both in the UK and worldwide¹. Yet there is a lot you can do to help keep your heart healthy. The best way to a healthy heart and avoiding future heart problems is by making sensible choices about your food intake and lifestyle options and being physically active.

Here we talk about these healthy options to help you look after your heart.

Don’t smoke

Smoking is bad for your heart and it is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. If you're a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart health. Once you stop smoking, the extra risk of heart problems is quickly reduced. A year after giving up smoking, your risk of having a heart attack will drop to around half the risk of a smoker.

Quitting the smoking habit is hard but it is achievable if you are determined to do so, you plan well and utilise help resources.

Get active

Lack of regular exercise is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Getting active and maintaining regular exercise can reduce this risk. It can also have the added benefits of enhancing your mood and reducing stress.

You should aim to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Activities you could try include fast walking, riding a bike, moderate swimming, and mowing the lawn. Moderate activity raises your heart rate, increases your breathing rate and makes you feel warmer.

150 minutes may sound a lot but if you break it down to 30 minutes of activity on five days of the week then it is often more achievable. You may find it beneficial to consider how you can incorporate exercise into your daily life, for example, briskly walking or cycling to work every day.

Achieve and keep a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. Managing your weight, losing excess weight, and maintaining a healthy weight will help reduce this risk.

To achieve and keep a healthy weight you should plan to enjoy a nourishing and balanced diet and take part in regular physical activity.

Favour fibre

A diet rich in fibre can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of coronary heart disease as well as improving your digestive health. You should aim to eat at least 30g of fibre every day. Fibre can be taken from many sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, wholemeal bread and potatoes with their skins.

Eat less salt

Reducing your salt intake will help you maintain a healthy blood pressure. Adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day which equates to about one teaspoon.

Avoid adding salt at the table and try to add less when cooking. Also watch the salt levels in readymade foods. A food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (0.6g sodium) per 100g.

Replace saturated fats

By replacing the unhealthy saturated fats with healthy fats, you can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. Foods high in saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol.

Try including nuts in your diet, switching to reduced fat milk, cheese and yoghurt, replace butter with margarine, have fish two times a week and choose mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna and salmon (good sources of omega-3 fats), and select leaner cuts of meat.

Limit your alcohol intake

It’s recommended that men and women do not drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. Keeping within these recommendations will help reduce risks to your heart health. Alcohol also contains calories and if you drink too much alcohol it can impact on your weight.

North Downs Hospital

If you are concerned about your heart, you should see your GP or a specialist. Here at North Downs Hospital we offer diagnostic tests for some heart conditions including ultrasound for aortic aneurism, digital fluoroscopy and angiograms.

We offer convenient appointments for some heart diagnostic tests.

Please call us on 01883 337 440 for more information or to book an appointment.

References

¹ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Coronary-heart-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx


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