According to the NHS, someone in the UK has a heart attack every two minutes and one in three of those people die within 24 hours of the attack. But it doesn’t have to be that way – the majority of heart attacks in people under the age of 75 are avoidable. Do you have a healthy heart?
Follow these 5 steps to improve the health of your heart and live a longer and healthier life:
1. Reduce your salt intake
Although the body does need a small amount of salt, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure. Adults are recommended to have no more than 6grams or 1 teaspoon of salt each day.
When reading food labels you should be aware the manufacturers often list salt as sodium this is important as 1g of salt equates to 2.5g of salt! If a food has more than 0.6g of sodium or 1.5g salt then it should be regarded as high in salt.
2. Improve your diet & cut down on fat
Saturated fat and trans fats raise high cholesterol (LDL) and can lower good cholesterol (HDL) and therefore should be avoided.
Moderate amounts of unsaturated is good for your cholesterol levels and can be found in foods such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts and seeds.
You should also increase your daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Pomegranates, blueberries and spinach are high in antioxidants which have an inflammatory effect on the blood vessels reducing the risk of heart disease. Oranges, mushrooms and bananas are high in potassium which helps to regulate blood pressure.
3. Get moving!
Many of us have very busy lifestyles these days and struggle to fit in a regular exercise regime but there are a few small changes you can make to your day to increase your physical activity; try getting off the bus or tube a stop earlier on your way to work, taking the stairs instead of the escalator or parking further away from the shops.
Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help increase your heart health by making your circulatory system more efficient, keeping your blood pressure low and lowering your cholesterol.
4. Stop Smoking
Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who have never smoked. Smoking narrows the arteries, raises blood pressure and thickens the blood making it more likely to clot.
To get help to stop smoking you should visit your GP who can advise you of the various treatments and support available.
5. Know your family history
You have an increased chance of heart disease if there is a history of it in your family.
You are considered to have a family history of heart disease if your father or brother was under the age of 55 when they were diagnosed or your mother or sister was under the age of 65 when they were diagnosed.
If you are aware of a family history of heart disease you should contact your GP who might want to check your cholesterol and blood pressure.
Although you cannot change your family history, by following the first four steps in this article you can increase your heart health and give yourself a better chance of living a longer and healthier life.