Whether you consider yourself to be at peak health or you have already had an issue with your heart health, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk of having further problems.
If you already have a heart condition or if you have certain risk factors which make it more likely that you are in danger of developing a heart condition then one of the first things you should do is arrange to visit a cardiologist in London for advice or to have your condition regularly monitored. In addition, it will help you to follow these tips for keeping your heart healthy. While following these tips doesn’t replace the need for you visit a cardiologist, making certain lifestyle changes can be beneficial.
The UK government’s own statistics from 2017 showed that smoking was responsible for 474,000 hospital admissions and 79,000 deaths and that these figures had increased in the period from 2005 to 2016. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and increases the incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and reduced physical activity, all of which affect heart health.
Eat Healthy Foods
A varied diet should be your aim, with the emphasis on certain foods. We are all aware that a diet which is too high in saturated fats, sugar and carbohydrates will eventually lead to general ill-health. Fatty and processed foods, in particular, are bad for the heart so try to include some of the following in your diet:
• Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Aim to include these two or three times a week.
• Nuts and seeds like flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds. Use rapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil for cooking. All these contain fats beneficial to the heart. Avocados are said to contain cholesterol-reducing mono-unsaturated fats.
• Fruit and vegetables. Include a wide variety of these and aim for 5 a day. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which protect the arteries and potassium to help blood pressure.
• Reduce your intake of red meat.
Drink Less Alcohol
The safest alcohol level is zero but for those who drink, the government’s Chief Medical Officer has produced guidelines which state that the safe level for both men and women is 14 units per week. This equates to 6 pints of 4% ABV beer, or 6 glasses of 13% ABV wine, or 14 glasses of 40% ABV spirits with mixers. You should ideally aim to have several alcohol-free days every week. If you already have a heart condition of any kind your cardiologist will be happy to advise you on how much is safe for you or whether it is safe to drink at all.
Increase your Physical Activity
Taking up any form of exercise will be beneficial for your general health but if you don’t exercise or if you have a largely sedentary lifestyle you should always seek the advice of your doctor before beginning any form of exercise program. When starting to exercise for the first time, especially after a long break, always start slowly and carefully and build up gradually. It can do more harm than good to throw yourself into a punishing routine when you are unfit and especially if you already have a heart condition. The following are good heart-friendly exercises for you to try:
- Walking. Walk at a steady pace and only go as far as you feel able.
- Swimming is an excellent all-round exercise for the muscles as well as the heart.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Cycling using an electrically-assisted cycle, a conventional one or a static bike.
By making gradual but effective lifestyle changes you will be taking better care of your heart.