The British Heart Foundation states that coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK. Around a quarter of deaths a year are caused by coronary heart attack, and approximately 1 in 7 men and 1 in 10 women die from heart attacks each year. Many more live with heart disease which can impair quality of life and the ability to do everyday things.
Women are catching up in the heart attack rates and it is important for them to realise that they are twice as likely to die from a heart attack as from breast cancer. Being aware of your heart health and doing everything you can to keep it healthy is the best thing that you can do for your health.
Here are 10 ways to look after your heart:
1. Eat healthily.
Making sure that you eat plenty of fibre, found in brown bread and wholegrain foods, eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and drink plenty of water is a good start to keeping your heart healthy.
2. Take Physical Exercise
The recommended daily amount of exercise is at least 30 minutes a day, but recent studies have suggested that even 10 minutes exercise a day will have some beneficial effect. The most important thing is to start moving, make it a habit and then gradually increase it.
3. Give up Smoking
If you are a smoker, the single best thing you can do for your heart is to give up smoking. The habit affects the function of the heart and blood vessels, causing thickening of the arteries over time. Second-hand smoke also affects the heart in a similar way.
4. Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Keeping your body at a healthy weight will help your heart to function correctly. Doctors use the body mass index or BMI to assess whether a person needs to lose weight, but research has also show that fat stored around the abdomen means that you are more at risk of developing heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Measuring your waist can also be an indication of your risk of developing heart disease. These measurements vary in recommendations according to ethnic group. The recommendations can be found on the British Heart Foundation’s website.
Drinking too much alcohol can also have an adverse effect on your heart. It can damage heart muscle, give you high blood pressure and cause abnormal heart rhythms as well as cause other diseases. Following recommended Government guidelines will help you to protect your heart.
Although stress is not directly responsible for cardiovascular disease, it may indirectly affect your heart health. Coping mechanisms such as smoking and drinking alcohol could directly affect your risk of developing heart disease.
Learning how to deal with stressful situations and relax will help you feel better and able to cope. Physical activity such as yoga can help to relieve stress or learning relaxation techniques.
7. Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure under control will help you reduce your risk of a heart attack. It is important to take medications if you have been prescribed them.
Keeping your diabetes well-regulated will help your heart health.
Keeping your cholesterol under safe limits will help to ensure that your risk of a heart attack is lowered.
10. Increased Risk due to Medication or Disease
If you are on medication or have a disease that increases the risk of having a heart attack such as Rheumatoid Arthritis then make sure that you keep doctor check-up appointments and take your medication as directed. Check-ups are normally regular which should help prevent the development of heart disease, but see your doctor if you are concerned about anything.