The heart is the most important organ in your body so it's essential to care for it through the choices we make. The right lifestyle assists your heart, strengthens and looks after it.
- Coronary Heart Disease is the UK’s biggest killer causing approximately 73,000 deaths every year
- Almost 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women die from CHD
- Approximately 23,000 people under the age of 75 die from CHD in the UK per year
- Family history of heart disease can heighten your risk of CHD
- Ethnic background – the risk of South Asian people in the UK dying from CHD is up to 50% higher than for white people
- There are approximately 60,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests per year in the UK
- The Emergency Services attempt to resuscitate approximately 30,000 people who have suffered an OHCA each year in the UK
Your heart is the single most important part of your body and it needs to be looked after in order for it work properly and for as long as possible.
Some small and fairly simple changes can boost your heart health and ensure you are doing as much as possible when it comes to protecting your most vital organ.
Diet and Exercise
Eating a healthy, balanced diet provides your body and your heart with all the nutrients and vitamins it needs to be strong and work properly.
(Did you know that your heart beats 100,000 times a day and for each passing minute, it pumps 1.5 gallons of blood around the body?).
How do we make sure we’re eating a well balanced diet? Stick to your main 5 food groups and eat in moderation from all is probably the best place to start.
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Starchy Foods: Bread, Rice, Pasta and Potatoes
- Non-Dairy: Meat, Fish, Eggs and Beans
- Fats and Sugars
Ensuring that you eat a balanced diet helps to lower cholesterol levels and also helps to reduce your risk to some cancers. Reducing your cholesterol is how you can help your heart. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood and it can increase your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
Committing to regular exercise is one way to lower cholesterol. This also helps with weight control and reduces blood pressure.
There are two types of cholesterol, the good type (HDL – high density lipoproteins) and the bad type (LDL – low density lipoproteins). If you have too much bad cholesterol in your body, it can cause a high level of fatty materials to build up in your artery walls; this blocks the blood flow to and from the heart and increases the strain on the organ itself.
Cut out smoking and drinking
A reduction in smoking and drinking (if you can manage to cut them out completely that would be even better) has major benefits on your health and in particularly, your heart.
(Did you know that smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to people who have never smoked)?
Smoking damages the linings of your arteries, causing a build up of fatty material, which can lead to a series of health problems including angina, heart attack or a stroke.
(Did you also know that after a year of giving up smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.)
Secondly, the carbon monoxide found in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, this means that your heart has to work harder to supply the body with much needed oxygenated blood that it needs.
The nicotine found in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline which makes your heart beat faster and raises blood pressure.
Drinking more than the recommended amounts of alcohol regularly can have adverse effects on your health, not just your heart. Excess drinking can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure and can even cause damage to the heart muscle itself.
Over drinking increases the risk of high blood pressure,. This is an important factor contributing to heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure can also impact your weight and the strength of the heart muscle, making it harder to pump blood around the body, known as ‘cardiomyopathy’.
If you would like to learn more about your heart during National Heart Month, visit our Resource Centre.
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