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How to look after your heart

Maya Griffiths

Maya Griffiths

Why do I need to worry about my heart?

if you think that only the elderly or morbidly obese need to take care of their heart, think again. Heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer;1 in 6 men die of it. You can’t change your family history or age, but with the right self-care you can vastly reduce your risk. Here’s how to slash your chances of developing heart problems.

Eat well

Currently most adults fail to eat their recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Upping your intake of fresh produce improves your health immeasurably, lowering cholesterol and the chance of developing obesity and diabetes. Lowering your intake of fat also cuts your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Instead, concentrate your diet on lean meats, fish, vegetables, starches such as rice and pasta, nuts and seeds, and limit processed foods.

Stay in shape

Carrying excess weight around your stomach area increases your risk of heart disease. Being overweight also puts you more in danger of high cholesterol and diabetes. Check your BMI (body mass index) on the NHS website to check out whether your weight is healthy for your age and height. If you’re tipping into the overweight category aim to introduce healthier eating as detailed above, and up your exercise.

Get active

Exercising can seem like a hassle in an already busy day, but a little investment in yourself can pay dividends. Not only does activity reduce the chance of disease by helping keep your weight in check, but regular exercise actually lowers blood pressure. You needn’t join a gym or spend on equipment either; walking or cycling counts as exercise. 30 minutes a day makes a huge difference to your general health.

Get your rest

Not getting enough sleep has a detrimental effect on your health. Missing out on hours of rest can result in high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Try winding down for sleep a little earlier in the evening, and if stress is keeping you awake at night then aim to tackle the causes. If sleep issues are persistent then consult your GP.

Give up the cigarettes

You’re twice as likely to have a heart attack if you smoke. It’s never too late to give up; if you quit your heart disease risk lowers to near the level of a non-smoker after 5 years. Cancer also puts you at high risk of many cancers and respiratory problems.

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