A quarter of all deaths is caused by heart disease in the UK. This means that every three minutes, someone dies due to heart complications.
These figures are worrying. But, luckily, there are things you can do every day to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Below is a list of things to do to improve your heart health. By sticking to these tips, you’ll live longer and better.
Diet plays a significant part in overall heart health. Start by fuelling your heart with the right foods for a healthier 2022.
Your diet should be full of whole grains, fibre, antioxidants and unsaturated fats for a healthy heart. Switching to wholegrain cereals and bread is a great start. Fill up on your five a day while sticking to healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, fish and sunflower seeds. Also, make sure to cut down on salt and instead use herbs and spices.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat. Eating dark chocolate is proven to decrease your risk of developing heart disease. Of course, this should be done in moderation, but enjoy this guilt-free treat!
Moving more has great benefits for your heart. Becoming more active could reduce your risk of developing heart disease by 35%.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to be an Olympic champion. Your exercise goals can change over time. Start small and build from there.
It’s important to find exercise activities that you enjoy. If you enjoy them, you’ll be more inclined to keep doing it. Try finding an activity you can enjoy with friends so you can encourage each other.
Although challenging, quitting smoking has a massive impact on your overall health. Those who smoke are two times more likely to die from a heart attack.
Perseverance is the best thing to have when quitting smoking. You’ll need a lot of commitment and dedication to give up an addictive habit.
There are various methods of support to help with this goal. While it’ll be a tough road, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Cut back on alcohol
Alcohol raises your blood pressure which affects the heart. Therefore, cutting down on alcohol consumption will benefit not only your liver but your heart too.
However, you don’t have to cut out alcohol completely. Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner or the occasional drink with friends is more than acceptable. The problem arises when excessive consumption becomes a habit.
So, it’s best to stick to the recommended limits when consuming alcohol. The government guidance is that no more than 14 units should be consumed per week.
See your doctor more often
Doctors are there to help. Their goal is to make you healthy and keep you that way. So, use them!
Attending routine appointments and keeping your doctor updated with your health will benefit your heart. During these appointments, make sure to ask questions and detail any issues you’ve been having. Catching a condition early can really make the difference later on.
If you’re concerned about your heart, you can ask your doctor for a transthoracic echocardiogram. This ultrasound uses sound waves to visualise the heart to determine if anything is wrong. Tests like these could help give you peace of mind – especially if you have a history of heart disease.
Maintain a healthy weight
This doesn’t mean everyone should be the same size. A healthy weight will depend on your height and age.
As previously mentioned eating well and getting active helps your heart. What’s more, these things also help maintain your weight. By keeping your heart healthy, you’ll keep your weight down too.
To determine what your ideal weight should be, have a look online for a BMI calculator. BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and it looks at your weight, height, and age to calculate if you’re healthy.
Lastly, taking care of your mental health is vitally important to your heart. If you let your stress levels get too high, you’re more likely to stop exercising, turn to comfort eating, and rely on smoking or drinking to calm your nerves. All of these things are bad for your heart.
Managing stress is easier said than done. It’s different for everyone, but some activities to try would be:
- Making “me” time
- Reaching out to friends or family
- Thinking positively
- Practicing mindfulness
- Getting enough sleep
Healthy heart, healthy life
By following these tips, you’re taking the proper steps for a healthier heart. But, don’t be discouraged if you miss a day of exercise, buy in a takeaway one evening, or even give in to the temptation of cigarettes. Remind yourself why you’re making these changes and get back to it!