The World Heart Foundation’s annual campaign, World Heart Day, takes place this year on 29th September, with a reminder to take care of your heart on this day and every day.
Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of death globally. New research from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute indicates that women are more likely to die from heart failure than men. These are alarming facts but there are ways you can minimise your risk of cardiovascular disease.
We spoke to Consultant Cardiologist Dr Awais Bokhari, from newly opened private healthcare practice Harley Street Consulting Clinics in Great Denham, to find out his 10 simple steps to improving your heart health.
- Get physical
Step, march or jog in place for at least 15 minutes a day while watching your favourite TV shows. Increase your activity by five minutes each week until you’re getting a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Eat healthily
Keep packages of unhealthy food hidden. Put raw vegetables and fruits at the front of the refrigerator and healthy snacks at the front of the cupboard, so that’s what you see first. If you grab healthy foods for a minimum of 21 times, healthy choices will become a habit.
- Manage diabetes
Having diabetes doubles your risk of diabetic heart disease. That’s because over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. So, it is important to get tested for diabetes and, if you have it, to keep it under control.
- Control cholesterol
Eating foods high in saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol can lead to high blood cholesterol. To help keep your cholesterol down, eat foods low in saturated fat and trans fat, such as lean chicken or turkey (roasted or baked, with skin removed), fruits and vegetables, low fat or fat free dairy products and whole grains. Look for recipe books that focus on heart health in your local bookstore.
- Cut down on salt
To help lower high blood pressure, watch your salt intake. It may be disguised in food labels as sodium alginate, sodium sulphite, sodium caseinate, disodium phosphate, sodium benzoate, sodium hydroxide, monosodium glutamate (MSG), or sodium citrate.
- Quit Smoking
Try this four-step way to kick your habit:
On Day 1, cut the number of cigarettes you smoke by half.
On Day 3, cut the number of cigarettes you smoke in half again.
On Day 5, cut your smoking in half again.
On your Quit Day… quit!
- Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. To achieve steady weight loss, take it easy. Each day, if you eat 200-300 calories less than you would normally consume, and exercise at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week, you’ll get closer to your goal and be able to achieve weight loss that’s steady and achievable.
- Limit alcohol.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Knowing your units will help you stay in control of your drinking. Men should not drink more than 14 units per week and women should not drink more than 10 units per week.. Spread your drinking over five or more days if you drink regularly. If you want to cut down, try to have several drink free days each week.
- Manage stress.
Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. Extreme stress can be a trigger for a heart attack. Try exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating to manage stress.
10,Schedule an annual check- up.
Your heart is in your hands. Each year on your birthday, schedule a check up to have your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked and ask your doctor to help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations, including taking prescribed medications as directed.
Remember, no one can take better care of your heart than you. When you achieve your healthy goal, give yourself credit, it will help you maintain momentum with exercising, losing weight or quitting smoking, and don’t forget to keep track of your achievements and reward yourself by doing something you enjoy.
To find out more about the cardiology services offered by Harley Street Consulting Clinics and arrange an appointment with Dr Bokhari, contact the practice on 01234 247414 or visit www.harleystreetconsultingclinics.com.