Your Doctor

10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

In the UK, 435 people lose their lives to heart disease every single day. More than 110 of these people will be under the age of 75, a very small number might even be children. Heart disease is a condition, which can affect anyone so here are ten ways you can make your heart healthier: 

1. If you’re a smoker then you need to take drastic steps to quit smoking in order to protect yourself from heart disease. Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease but if you do quit, your risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker. 

2. You should do about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week to reduce your risk of heart disease. This is just 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. This can be broken down into three episodes of 10 min activities.

3. Stick to a diet low in fats and sugars. If you’re overweight then you should take steps to lose weight in order to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. If you do this gradually, sugar cravings are minimised.

4. Drink less alcohol. Regular or high alcohol intake can lead to heart disease called cardiomyopathy. Binge drinking can cause irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Alcohol contains a lot of calories that can have a big impact on how you manage your weight. 

5. Manage stress in your life. Excessive stress over a long period of time can cause heart attacks so it’s important that you do not overwork or overload yourself in order to protect yourself from developing heart disease.

6. Manage your cholesterol. We need cholesterol to be healthy but an imbalance of cholesterol in your blood can lead to heart attack or stroke. In order to balance your cholesterol you should be eating protein for breakfast, eating the right fats, taking supplements and reducing the amount of flour and sugar in your diet.

7. Oily fish contains huge amounts of omega-3 fats, which is a mineral that helps protect against heart disease. Salmon, sardines and tuna are all great sources of omega-3. However, pregnant women should not eat more than two portions of oily fish a week. 

8. Start eating more fibre. Experts say that 30g of fibre a day can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. You can get fibre from foods like wholemeal bread, bran, oats, potato skins, fruit and vegetables.

9. Cut down the salt in your diet (particularly sodium salts) as it can affect your blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease. The salt we consume is usually already in the foods we buy so it’s important to check the labels of what you’re buying. Microwave meals are notorious for having a huge amount of salt in – it’s always better to cook from scratch so you’re more aware of what’s going into your food.

10. Eat your 5-a-day (at least)! Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day will mean your body is absorbing a good amount of vitamins and minerals which in turn will help your body fight against heart disease. There is a push towards 7-10 portions a day but we would encourage you to build this into your diet gradually.

If you'd like more information on how to improve your heart health please contact us.