Steps to a Healthy Heart
According to the NHS, Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the UK’s biggest killer, causing around 73,000 deaths every year.
1. Take responsibility for your health
The best prevention against heart disease is to understand the risks and treatment options. The greatest risk is ignorance or misinformation. The first step is to take responsibility for your health.
2. Don’t smoke or expose yourself to second-hand smoke
If you’re a smoker, stopping is the biggest step you can take to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Smokers are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked. The evidence is overwhelming that cigarette smoking and second-hand exposure to smoke increases the risks of heart disease, lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.
3. Maintain a healthy blood pressure
High blood pressure, called hypertension, is known as “the silent killer” as it goes without symptoms in most individuals. High blood pressure causes wear and tear of the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels. The higher your blood pressure (BP) the greater your risk. The risk begins to increase from a pressure of 115/70 mmHg and doubles for each 10 mmHg increase in systolic (the larger number) and 5 mmHg increase in the diastolic (the smaller number). Heredity and increasing age raise the risks.
4. Cut down on fat
Reduce your total fat intake, especially saturated fat. These lead to increased cholesterol, so are bad for your heart. Foods high in saturated fat include butter, hard cheese, fatty meat, biscuits, cakes, cream, lard, suet, ghee, coconut oil and palm oil. Don’t exclude all saturated fat from your diet, some is required for good health.
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5. Limit your calories
Fad diets do not work. If any of them did, we all would be on THAT one, wouldn’t we? Obesity is caused by consuming more calories than your body burns. Portion sizes and the amount of sugars in our diet has dramatically increased over the past few decades. At the same time, the daily amount of exercise has been decreasing.
You should try to eat:
- at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables
- plenty of starchy foods, especially wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta
- some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- some milk and dairy foods – choose lower-fat varieties
- just a small amount of food and drinks high in fat, sugar, or both
6. Make exercise a daily habit
The lack of exercise is contributing to the obesity epidemic. An active lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Past activity levels don’t count: it’s how active you are now that matters.
Regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight. Physical activity isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your mood as well. Exercise does more than burn calories; it also activates genes that are beneficial to health in other ways. Exercise is one of the best treatments for depression and anxiety.
7. Manage stress and anger
There is no evidence to suggest that stress causes coronary heart disease or heart attacks. But if you have coronary heart disease and experience feelings of anxiety or are under lots of stress, it may bring on symptoms like angina. Everyone has stress, and it’s normal to get angry now and then. Learning to manage your stress and handle your anger in healthy ways puts you back in charge.