10 ways you can reduce heart disease & stroke risk
While thinking about your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases may be daunting, it is important to know how to monitor the underlying causes and make simple lifestyle changes to live a happier, longer and healthier life.
Handle the pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) causes your heart to work harder to pump blood, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. You can establish whether you have high or low blood pressure by using a blood pressure monitor available at most pharmacies and GP surgeries. It is worth taking your blood pressure readings periodically as most people with high blood pressure experience no symptoms.
Smokers are twice as likely to develop an irregular heartbeat, called atrial fibrillation, which significantly increases your chances of stroke. You can reduce your risk over time by quitting cigarettes, which will be easier with the support of your GP, family and friends, or local specialist stop smoking services.
Make your tea green
There is research showing that adults who drink green tea instead of black tea or coffee have a 26% lower risk of death from stroke. As a bonus, green tea boosts your metabolism which helps your body to burn energy when not doing exercise.
Eat yourself healthy
You can lower your risk of getting heart disease by sticking to a healthy diet. Focus your diet around whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, plant-based proteins and lean animal proteins. Avoid excessive salt consumption to decrease cardiovascular risk, and read nutrition fact labels to limit your sodium, added sugars, saturated and trans-fat intake.
Watch your weight
If you’re overweight or obese, consider setting realistic weight loss goals. This may be done by checking your Body Mass Index (BMI) to establish where you are and where you want to be. Losing weight can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You can start by eating fewer calories and planning set times to be active.
Ask about statin therapy
If you have high cholesterol, ask your GP about statin therapy. Statins are drugs that act by blocking the production of cholesterol and by helping your body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up on your artery walls. Statin therapy can therefore help patients get back to normal cholesterol levels and prevent potential heart attacks.
Re-think your drinks
Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can be detrimental to your heart health. It is thought that alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases. Each week, it is recommended that men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol and have several alcohol-free days.
Being active is a great way to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Adults are recommended to undertake 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least 5 times per week. Examples could include brisk walking, swimming, strength training or any other workout that matches your goals and abilities.
Stress and sleep deprivation are linked to raised blood pressure and increased incidence of heart attacks and strokes. You can reduce your stress levels with a healthy diet, meditation, exercise, time spent with friends and family, and limiting the time spent on social media or looking at screens.
Know your numbers
Knowing your health numbers such as cholesterol, blood sugar (glucose), blood pressure and BMI (Body Mass Index) will help you assess your cardiovascular risk level and understand the changes you need to make to be healthier. Get regular health checks to ensure you remain in control of your health, particularly as you age.
Why not try our complete heart and stroke health check package to take control of your cardiovascular health today? Click here for more information.
Have you got a health question?
We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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