Did you know February marks National Heart Month? This important month of awareness aims to inform and educate on how to keep a healthy heart and prevent heart disease across the nation. There’s so much we can do to get involved with this important calendar event, not only by educating ourselves and others, but by making little changes to our daily lives and getting involved with campaigning, volunteering and fundraising.
The British Heart Foundation provides huge amounts of important information regarding heart disease and how to prevent it. This month they released a poignant television advertisement detailing the devastating effects heart disease can have. Not everyone fully understands what heart disease is, and the different terms often associated with it, so we’ve gathered some informative information and facts below which have come from the British Heart Foundation Website:
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD; Heart and Circulatory Disease) Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term that describes all diseases of the heart and circulation. It includes everything from conditions that are diagnosed at birth, or inherited, to developed conditions such as coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and stroke.
- Cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease causes more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all deaths in the UK; that’s nearly 160,000 deaths each year – an average of 435 people each day or one death every three minutes.
- Around 42,000 people under the age of 75 in the UK die from CVD each year.
- Since the BHF was established the annual number of deaths from CVD in the UK has fallen by half.
- In 1961, more than half of all deaths in the UK were attributed to CVD (320,000 CVD deaths).
- Since 1961 the UK death rate from CVD has declined by more than three quarters. Death rates have fallen more quickly than the actual number of deaths because people in this country are now living longer lives.
So what can we can do to prevent Cardiovascular disease? Well there’s a number of things, these include; eating healthy, keeping active, quitting smoking and drinking, reducing stress and keeping an eye on our weight.
Eating healthily is a key way to obtain a healthy heart and prevent coronary heart disease, and it can reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and stop you gaining weight in addition. A healthy well balanced diet should incorporate a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetable a day, plenty of healthy carbohydrates, a small amount of dairy, and some protein. A small amount of fat and sugar is okay however always choose foods wherever you can that are lower in fat, sugar and salt content.
Alcohol intake should follow the national recommended guidelines – which you can read about here.
Exercising and keeping active is another great way to retain a healthy heart and prevent heart disease and other health issues. Not only will it benefit your health by keeping active but it will make you look and feel great. It’s recommended for adults to do at-least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. According the NHS this can include:
- water aerobics
- ballroom and line dancing
- riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
- playing doubles tennis
- pushing a lawn mower
Smoking is a huge contributor towards an unhealthy heart, and quitting is one of the single best things you can do to improve heart health. Those who smoke are twice as likely to develop heart related problems, and are at more risk of having a heart attack compared to those who have never smoked. By quitting you’re also reducing your risk of developing certain cancers. It’s never too late to quit and there’s a huge array of support and information available to help you give up for good.~
Other ways to prevent CVD is reducing stress levels where you can which can have an impact on your heart and mental health, and also to see your GP regularly for checks, particularly if you know of anyone in the family with any heart complaints.
Now we understand a little more about Cardiovascular Disease and ways to prevent it, we can now start to raise awareness. As it’s National heart month this February why not get involved by sharing the importance of preventing circulatory and heart disease.
Also get involved through fundraising, campaigning and volunteering. There’s a multitude of charities that are established whom aim to help prevent heart disease, raise awareness and undertake research into fighting CVD.