Written by: Anne Marie Fogarty, RGN
Tips For Being Heart Wise
Did you know that each year, more people lose their lives globally due to heart disease than any other illness or disease in existence? Every year, roughly 20 million people lose their lives as a result of cardiovascular diseases, accounting for more than 1 in 4 global deaths annually. Every single day, around 50,000 people die from heart and circulatory diseases and complications.
Here in the UK, things are just as bleak. Research has found that coronary heart disease, or CHD for short, is responsible for the deaths of more than 66,000 people every single year. That equates to around 460 people losing their lives every single day. Of these 460 people, 130 are aged below 75.
Statistically, men are twice as likely to die from CHD than women, with 1 in 8 men dying from heart disease compared with 1 in 16 women.
Needless to say, looking after your heart is of paramount importance, yet doing so is much easier said than done. We know about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle when it comes to cardiovascular health, but what does that actually mean, and how can we implement this as part of our everyday lives?
Here are some tips on helping to keep the heart healthy.
Don’t fear all fats
If there’s one thing that we’ve learnt from the 70s and 80s diet culture, it’s the fact that fat is NOT always to be feared.
Many decades ago, health “experts” believed that all fats were responsible for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, and any other cardiovascular-related illness you could think of. Decades later, we now know better.
Not all fats are bad for us, and in fact, there are certain fats that are incredibly healthy and beneficial and can actually promote a healthy heart.
Healthy fats like those found in oily fish, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and various nuts and seeds can help to reduce LDL cholesterol, boost healthy HDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, reduce blood lipid content, and much more besides.
Providing you stay away from trans fats and most saturated fats and limit your healthy fat intakes, you’ll find that consuming healthy fats can actually be hugely beneficial for your heart, brain, and body in general.
Do more cardiovascular exercise
The heart is a muscle, and like the other muscles in your body, in order to strengthen it, you need to exercise it.
To build up your biceps, you can do bicep curls, and to strengthen your heart, you should perform cardiovascular exercises. Cardio helps to burn calories, burns fat, improves circulation, reduces blood pressure, and strengthens the heart. Combine all these benefits together, and you have the perfect recipe for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
It doesn’t matter whether you go jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, play sports, use cardio machines at the gym, or simply go for a walk. Aim to perform cardio at least 5 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session, and your heart will be considerably healthier.
Keep track with our Home Exercise Tracker!
If you’re reading this and you already don’t smoke, then great, try to keep it that way. If you are a smoker, however, yet another of the many, many reasons to quit is due to the fact that doing so could prevent you from suffering from CHD.
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, as it can lead to all manner of health issues relating to the heart.
Quitting smoking will also help reduce your risk of other serious illnesses, plus it will help you to save money in the process.
Get your 5 a day
Eating a healthy diet is about so much more than monitoring your weight. It’s about promoting general health and well-being.
Health experts recommend that we consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day at least, so try to do exactly that. These foods are loaded full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. They help protect the heart, boost immunity, reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and promote wellness in general.
Oh, and unfortunately, a Chocolate Orange does not count as 1 of your 5 a day, although a real orange does!