Heart disease has become so rampant in the UK that, according to the British Heart Foundation, one quarter of all deaths in the UK (or an average of 450 deaths a day) is due to heart and circulatory diseases. The BHF also reports that around 7.6 million people are living with some type of heart disease.
You can avoid being part of these statistics by learning how to take care of your heart.
Below are five ways to keep your heart healthy and live on to enjoy a life without the numerous restrictions that come with heart disease.
1. Eat less food rich in saturated or trans fat.
Diet is a major factor in heart disease. Eating lots of sodium-rich or salty food, for example, can increase your blood pressure. The main culprits, however, are food rich in saturated fat and trans fat.
Saturated fat mostly comes from animal sources like meat and dairy products. Overconsumption of saturated fat leaves the LDL-receptors in the liver less effective at removing LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. This raises your blood cholesterol level, which can cause various problems such as:
- Plaque buildup (made of fat) in the blood vessels
- High blood pressure
- High risk for stroke
Trans fat has a similar effect on the body and it also comes from meat and dairy products. You mostly get trans fat from pastries, baked goods, fried fast food, and processed food (watch out for labels with “partially hydrogenated fat”).
Your body still needs saturated and trans fat, but only in small quantities. So, manage your consumption of fatty and processed meats, cakes, fried food, and full-fat dairy products.
2. Monitor your weight.
Studies show that obesity increases the risk of coronary heart disease. It also heightens distressing sensations that can exacerbate heart conditions, like difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and fatigue.
Every five-point increase in the BMI increases a person’s risk for heart failure by 32 per cent, so you must monitor and keep your body mass index below your obesity level.
3. Maintain an active lifestyle.
Exercise is crucial to keeping the heart healthy and preventing obesity. You don’t need to perform strenuous exercises. Simple physical activities like walking, light jogging, stretching, and other home exercises go a long way in protecting heart health. You’ll need more rigorous workout routines if you are overweight or must shed off some kilos as recommended by your doctor.
The key is repetition and routine. Don’t spend hours sitting on the couch, for example, and lead a more active lifestyle. Find a sport you can enjoy or make sure to clock in at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity (e.g., swimming, dancing, cycling) per week.
4. Avoid habits that promote heart disease.
Vices like smoking and heavy drinking can increase the risk of heart disease, among others. Unhealthy eating habits, excessive stress and sleep deprivation are also associated with various heart diseases. To lower your risk, quit smoking, moderate alcohol intake, take measures to lower your stress and get enough sleep at night.
5. Monitor your heart stats.
High blood pressure or hypertension has earned the nickname, “silent killer” because patients rarely know that they have this condition. This is why in many cases, stroke (of which hypertension is the main cause) comes as a surprise to patients and their families.
It’s therefore important to know your ideal blood pressure, blood sugar level, and other vital stats. They can guide your lifestyle and give you an idea of what you need to do to stay healthy (e.g., reduce your sugar consumption if your blood sugar is high).
Talk to your doctor and schedule annual heart check-ups. They might recommend an echocardiogram to check for irregularities in your heart’s anatomy or function. If you’re showing symptoms of cardiovascular heart disease, your doctors may ask for a cardiac MRI scan to properly diagnose your condition.
Visit Our Healthcare Specialist Providers in the U.K.
Get an echocardiogram or cardiac MRI scan at Vista Health, a healthcare provider that works with clinicians, heart specialists and all major insurers in the country. We have clinics all over London and across the UK. Find a location near you and contact us to book an appointment.
Live life unrestrained by the shackles of heart disease. Follow our tips above and take care of your heart with Vista Health.