According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), there are more than 7.4 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK. That’s around twice as many as are living with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. Furthermore, every year more than a quarter (27%) of all deaths in the UK are caused by heart and circulatory diseases – an average of one death every three minutes.
Each year, to raise awareness about heart and circulatory disease in the UK, the BHF declares February National Heart Health month. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of five tips to help you look after your heart:
1. Give up smoking
If you’re a smoker, giving up your habit is the number one thing you can do to benefit your heart. That’s because smoking is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease and increases your heart rate, tightens your major arteries and can cause an irregular heart rhythm – all of which make your heart work harder.
Think it’s too late to give up? Did you know that just a year after quitting, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker?
2. Get active
Another lifestyle choice that can have a significant impact on your heart health is getting (and staying) active. The NHS says that just 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week is enough to reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s also a great stress buster and mood booster.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise include:
- Brisk walking
- Riding a bike
- Pushing a lawn mower
3. Watch your weight
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. A larger frame means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around and if you carry the majority of your weight around your stomach, you are at greater risk of having high blood sugar, increased blood pressure and raised levels of triglycerides – all of which are major risk factors for heart disease.
4. Eat more fibre
The association between eating plenty of fibre and having a lower risk of heart disease dates back to the 70s, and the evidence to support it has been increasing ever since. In short, a diet high in fibre (at least 30g a day) from wholegrain foods can lower both your blood pressure and cholesterol. It also fills you up, which can lead to you eating less and losing weight.
5. Reduce your salt intake
Salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure. That’s why you should be conscious about how much you consume. Check food labels to see how much salt a product contains and don’t automatically reach for the salt shaker every time you eat.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t eat more than 6g of salt a day – that’s about one teaspoon, and don’t eat anything with more than 1.5g of salt per 100g.
While many other health issues get a lot of coverage, we must not forget about our hearts too. Maintaining a healthy heart can actually help with other issues such as mental health and maintaining bones and joints.
With most health insurance plans today offering extensive benefits for heart conditions, it is important to note that looking after our heart health can also contribute to avoiding other health ailments that are associated with heart conditions.
Rebekah has worked for Premier Choice Group since 2009, and today develops our consumer client base. Working within a strong team of consultants, Rebekah maintains a high service level set out for our clients whilst building and retaining sound relationships throughout the company’s portfolio.