As Valentine’s Day approaches you won’t be able to get far without seeing pink and yellow hearts plastered everywhere. Valentines Day is the time of year to where we celebrate love and romance, but our hearts are about much more than romance. Contrary to some, our heart’s only function isn’t to just help us fall in love, but instead to keep our blood pumping around our body. Our hearts play a vital role in our everyday lives, so it is important we do our best to protect them and keep them healthy.
How to look after your heart
By stopping smoking you can protect your heart and blood vessels from excessive damage. By smoking you are narrowing your blood vessels and blocking them with plaque or potentially, blood clots. Chemicals in cigarettes can cause your blood to thicken which can cause clots being formed in veins and arteries. Blockage from a clot can lead to heart attack which can be fatal.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends everyone takes part in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week. By exercising, your muscles can get stronger therefore improving the muscles’ ability to pull oxygen out of your blood. This reduces the need for your heart to work harder to pump blood to your muscles.
Reduce you Salt Intake
Lowering your salt intake to 6g a day or less can help lower your blood pressure meaning your heart doesn’t have to work overtime to get your blood going. Too much salt can cause fluid to build up around the heart meaning your heart has to work harder. You will be able to tell if you are consuming too much salt as you will have persistent thirst, urinate a lot and/or find food bland and boring.
Eat A Balanced Diet
By eating a healthy balanced diet, you can help control your weight as well as keeping your cholesterol levels down. You diet should be low in saturated fat and filled with high fibre foods, fruit and vegetables, as well as lean protein. By eating balanced meals, you are reducing your risk of developing heart disease and reducing the risk of gaining weight which in turn reduces your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
What can happen if you don’t do this?
Following the above tips can help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This is when your arteries develop plaque which makes them smaller, reducing the amount of blood that can get through. Ultimately, this can lead to the development of blood clots, heart attacks or strokes. According to the Office of National Statistics, Heart disease and stroke are currently the leading causes of death in Wales. In May 2021 alone around 300 people lost their lives because of heart related diseases/conditions.
There are factors that can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases which include, being over the age of 40, being male, having family history of heart disease or being from a certain ethnic background. These factors, you have no control over so it is important you do all you can to reduce your risk.
This Valentine’s Day, go for a romantic walk, have a home cooked healthy meal and swap the chocolates for some extra roses. By doing this you are helping to ensure you will be around for more Valentine’s Days to come.
If you have any concerns about your heart health, make an appointment to talk to your GP. There are multiple recipes you can find online for low salt meals, simply search ‘Low Salt Meals’ – you may just have to make an easy swap of ingredients!