To live your best life it is important to take care of your heart. By looking after your heart you can live a longer and more active life.
Many heart and circulatory diseases share the same risk factors so at PYB Health we have put together a list of the 10 best ways you can minimise these to ensure you keep your heart in the best health that you can.
1. STOP Smoking
Smoking is really bad for your heart and is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. So if you are a smoker then QUIT. Quitting smoking is the absolute best thing you can do to reduce your risk of a heart attack and to look after your heart.
You might be surprised at the ways your health will improve when you quit smoking, you will notice a difference nearly straight away but the really amazing news id that after 15 years of not smoking your risk of a heart attack will be the same as someone that has never smoked!!
2. Get Active
Getting active doesn’t mean you need to sign up at your local gym, getting active is about being physically active instead of inactive or sedentary. Sitting or lying on the sofa watching TV or looking at your phone or sitting at a desk or computer for hours on end leads to you not moving your body for long periods of time. When you don’t move much you are physically inactive or sedentary which can lead to heart circulatory diseases like heart attack and stroke.
So our second way to keep your heart healthy is to get up and move around by doing some housework or gardening or take the dog for a walk. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
Just by being active you can reduce the risk of developing some heart and circulatory diseases by as much as 35% [source]
3. Look after your mental health
Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health and having a mental health condition can also affect your heart health. Looking after yourself if you have a mental health condition can sometimes feel overwhelming but the good news is that by taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle you can help lower your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases.
If you’re worried about your mental health, you should discuss this with your GP. There’s support and medication available to help you live well.
Read more about mental health
4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
Last year (2019) it was reported that obesity is overtaking smoking as the biggest health risk in Wales with one in three adults aged 45 to 64 being classed as obese. [source]
Being overweight or obese can lead to many serious health conditions and can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia.
Each year an additional 10,000 adults in Wales will become obese. To reduce your risk of heart disease it is really important to manage your weight. The best way is to stick to a healthy, balanced diet, eat plenty of fruit & veg and combine this with regular physical activity.
5. Manage your cholesterol
Having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia so therefore, where possible, you should try to manage your cholesterol levels.
Anyone can get high cholesterol, and it can be caused by many different things. Some things you can control like lifestyle habits, others you can’t. As long as you take care of the things you can control, you’ll help lower your risk.
In fact the things you can control have already been covered in this article so we will mention once again: Stop smoking, be physically active and maintain your weight at a healthy level!
Reasons for high cholesterol that you can’t control are: getting older, your ethnic background, familia hypercholesterolaemia (a form of high cholesterol you are born with), kidney or liver disease or an underactive thyroid gland.
6. Manage your blood pressure
Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, so knowing your blood pressure could save your life. High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms which is why it’s so important to get your blood pressure checked.
7. Manage Diabetes
When you have diabetes, you’re more at risk of heart disease. This is due to high blood sugar levels which can damage your blood vessels.
Every week diabetes causes 530 heart attacks and 680 strokes in the UK
8. Get some FRESH air
Air pollution is harmful to your heart and circulation. Polluted air can come from several sources, such as domestic wood burning and cars, particularly diesel exhaust fumes, as well as industry. Try walking or cycling where possible and avoid highly polluted areas, particularly if you have an existing health condition.
9. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy balanced diet will naturally help to look after your heart. Eating your recommended 5 fruit and veg a day, eating less salt, less sugar & more fish are all going to help you on your way to a healthier you and a healthier heart. For more information read our 10 rules to live by to eat healthier.
10. Drink less
Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and weight, increasing risk of a heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. There is a very clear link between regularly drinking too much alcohol and having high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure (hypertension) puts strain on the heart muscle and can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. To keep your heart healthy we recommend keeping alcohol intake to a low level to find out more read our alcohol awareness article.