While heart disease is common, many of us can take steps to help prevent it.
One in 10 men aged 50 has a heart age of 60. This was the finding of Public Health England (PHE), following analysis of the results from its online Heart Age test.
And the issue certainly doesn’t just affect men: more than 900,000 women in the UK are living with heart disease and it kills nearly three times more women than breast cancer.
So, what can you do to improve your heart health and lower your heart age?
1. Stop Smoking
Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who’ve never smoked, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Smoking damages the lining of the arteries and leads to the build-up of fatty material that narrows your arteries. Quitting is the best thing for your heart heath. One year after giving up, your heart-attack risk will be halved.
2. Reduce Saturated Fats
BHF says too much saturated fat can increase the amount of ‘bad’ (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Saturated fats can be found in fried food, processed meat products such as sausages, pastries, cheese and cream.
3. Get More Active
Activity and exercise help to lower your risk of coronary heart disease. It can feel like it’s difficult to fit exercise into daily life, but simple things such as walking rather than driving or taking the stairs instead of the lift can help. Or you can download and try the NHS Couch to 5K app and set yourself the challenge of getting fit through running https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/
4. Mind your weight
If you’re overweight, your heart must work harder. Maintaining a healthy weight can cut down the strain on your heart and help protect you against high blood pressure and lower your cholesterol, helping to keep your heart healthy.
5. Keep your blood pressure in check
A normal blood pressure (BP) is around 120/70mmHg, although up to 140/90mmHg is within the normal range. High blood pressure can be symptomless and as many as seven million people in the UK have it unknowingly. Many people’s BP can be lowered or kept in check with lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, lowering salt and alcohol intake, being active and having stress-coping strategies.
Check our your heart age at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/check-your-heart-age-tool/
Published on 15 May 2020