February is National Heart Awareness Month in the UK, putting a spotlight on different heart conditions. Referred to as cardiovascular disease, CVD is the UK’s number one killer, and covers a range of different diseases:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Atrial fibrillation
- Congenital heart disease
- Coronary heart disease
However, while it may be a leading cause of death, it doesn’t have to be inevitable. There are some risk factors of CVD that you can’t eliminate, such as your family history or age, but there are also many that you can avoid or reduce by adopting certain lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle medicine is all about making changes to how we eat, exercise and live our lives, which can help prevent or limit certain health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Here are our five steps to a heart-healthy life:
#1 Quit smoking
This is the best thing you can do to benefit your heart. According to the World Health Organisation, within one year your risk of CVD is about half of that of a smoker’s and after 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker.
#2 Exercise more
Aim for regular, daily exercise to lower the risk of heart disease, as well as experience many other health benefits.
#3 Eat a heart-healthy diet
A healthy diet can boost your heart health; incorporate lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains and healthy fats. Limit your intake of alcohol, salt, sugar and saturated fats. This will also help you maintain a healthy weight as carrying excess pounds around your middle increases your risk of CVD.
#4 More sleep
Lack of good quality sleep has a profound impact on your health and has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and heart attack.
#5 Regular health screenings
Regular health screenings for high blood pressure or high cholesterol can tell you whether you need to take action to protect your heart.
For more advice on lifestyle medicine, call us on 07833 447 665.