6 ways to look after your heart
Looking after your heart over the coming months and years needn’t be a complicated business.
Here’s a quick reminder of what the research scientists have found out…
1. Exercise, exercise, exercise…
Exercise improves your blood pressure, lowers your cholesterol and improves the blood flow to your heart. 1
So once you’ve got the okay from your health team, it’s important to get moving, even if you start with a simple stroll.
And it’s not just your heart that gets a boost – your whole body will benefit. New research has found doing just 15 minutes’ exercise a day can add three years to your life. 2
2. Eat a heart-healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet can help you feel good not just now, but in the future, too. Simplify the rules to make it easier:
(1) Keep your diet high in fibre, and always eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day.
(2) Eat good fats. Choose heart-healthy omega-3 fats found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and trout, as these help protect against coronary heart disease and also boost your chances of survival after a heart attack. 3
3. Stop smoking
Smoking damages the lining of your arteries. This leads to fatty material (atheroma) building up in the lining of your arteries, making it harder for the blood to get through and eventually leading to blocked arteries. Smoking also increases your risk of developing a blood clot, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke – another good reason to give up.4
4. Keep taking your medicines
It’s really important to keep taking your medication, even if you’re feeling much better than you did when you were discharged from hospital. Your medicines will help prevent you having further complications and reduce your chances of having another heart attack.
If you’re experiencing any side-effects or you have any questions about your medicines, always talk to your doctor.
5.Don’t miss health care appointments
Going for your check-ups is key to your continuing health. Monitoring things such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels can reduce your chances of having more heart problems.
Whether it’s seeing your GP, going to cardiac rehabilitation or attending hospital appointments, make the commitment to go, write the dates and times in your diary, stick a note on the fridge, and ask someone close to you to nag you until you get there!
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1https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-attack/recovery/, Accessed September 2018
2https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/exercise-15-minutes-a-day-ups-lifespan-by-3-years, Accessed September 2018
3https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/, Accessed September 2018
4https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronary-heart-disease/causes/, Accessed September 2018