Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of death in the UK, with coronary heart disease (CHD) in particular responsible for 16% of all male deaths and 10% of all female deaths in the country in 2012, according to the British Medical Journal. As lifestyle can play a significant part in the development and progression of the disease, many of these deaths could have been prevented, and there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you minimise your risk of heart disease.
One of the most obvious and effective steps towards better heart health is to quit smoking if you are a smoker. While this can be very difficult for many people due to the addictive nature of nicotine, it can be done through sheer determination and the aid of nicotine replacement such as gum, patches and e-cigarettes. Your heart will certainly thank you for it in the long run.
The importance of diet should not go underestimated when it comes to keeping your cardiovascular system in good shape. Foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains are all great ways to lower cholesterol and keep your weight down, which is a great indicator as to the state of your overall health. Avoid indulging too often on sugar, alcohol and red meats, as these can all inhibit weight loss efforts and put pressure on your heart and body.
Lastly, it is important to note the role exercise plays in staying in top physical condition. Indeed, the new catchphrase many health practitioners are starting to use is that “sitting is the new smoking” due to the detrimental health effects lack of movement can bring about. To combat this, aim for 3 or 4 exercise sessions a week. These sessions do not have to be particularly vigorous, and can be built up over time. Short walks and strolls, for example, can be good starting points for those who are not used to exercising much. Club and team sports can also be a great way to get fit while making new friends and learning new skills. Either way, getting up and about is one of the best things you can do for your heart, and indeed the rest of your body’s well-being. For more information on minimising your risk of heart disease, watch our detailed video.