Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s biggest killer and is currently responsible for 17.3 million deaths per year, a figure which is expected to continue rising. One of the big reasons for this is the lifestyle choices we make in today’s society. Fortunately, most cases of CVD can be prevented by making some lifestyle changes such as following a healthy diet, taking part in regular exercise and quitting smoking. World Heart Day 2015 focuses on creating healthy heart environments in order for everyone to make healthy heart choices.
We have put together some helpful tips on how you can stay heart healthy at home, work and when socialising in order for you to decrease your risk of developing CVD.
Keeping heart healthy in the home
Transform your cupboards
Diet has a big role to play in the development of CVD. The regular consumption of foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar such as crisps, cakes, chocolate and pizza have been found to increase ones risk of developing heart disease. Avoid the temptation by swapping these foods for healthy fruit, vegetables and wholegrains in your next weekly shop. Why not keep prepared and chopped fruit and vegetables in your fridge for those vulnerable moments.
Ban smoking in your home
Banning smoking in the home is not only beneficial to your health but also the heart health of others around you. The risk of developing CVD is increased by 24% for those who smoke. Second-hand smoke also contains up to 4,000 toxins which can increase ones risk of CVD and is particularly harmful to children. Opening the windows is not a simple solution; these toxins can remain present in the air for up to 2.5 hours after smoking even if the room is well ventilated.
The NHS has a range of expert resources and services to help you quit. http://bit.ly/1FML6Cv
Know your risk
It’s important to have regular health checks with your healthcare professional, particularly if you have a close family member who has suffered with CVD or if you fall within a certain age range. The NHS health check is a free health service which is offered to those aged between 40-74 years living in England. The health check will assess your risk of developing some of the most preventable diseases as well as giving you advice on how to reduce this risk. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/1KcQvUR
Keeping heart healthy in the workplace
Sitting at your desk for long periods throughout the day and being physically inactive at work can increase your risk of developing CVD. Increase your level of exercise at work by walking to and from work, taking a lunch time walk, taking the stairs where possible and making an effort to move throughout the day. You could encourage your colleagues to take part in a walking challenge.
The World Heart Federation have partnered up with BUPA to create ‘Ground Miles’, an app which tracks your steps. You can use this to start a walking challenge/competition in your workplace. http://bit.ly/1JqIuwD
Watch your alcohol intake
Drinking above the recommended daily allowance of alcohol can have harmful effects on your health. Current guidelines for alcohol consumption are 3-4 units of alcohol per day for men and 2-3 units per day for women. If you drink alcohol every day, you may want to consider having a few alcohol free days each week.
There is some evidence to suggest that drinking small quantities daily can be beneficial to heart health through increasing antioxidant levels and the healthy (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. However, these beneficial effects can be also be achieved through increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as well as taking part in regular physical activity which are much healthier ways to protect your heart.