Your heart works incredibly hard every second of every day. It is at the centre of everything you are and when it’s working well, it pumps blood through the arteries, delivering oxygenated blood and essential nutrients to the entire body. The stronger your heart is, the slower it has to work to pump blood efficiently around your body, and the less stress it is under.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease or cardiovascular disease (CVD) are general terms that describe different heart problems. The most common type is coronary heart disease, a condition in which the arteries and vessels that supply blood to the heart become blocked with plaque. This can lead to a heart attack. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death globally. Yet by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can improve your heart health and quality of life.

Risk factors for heart health

Knowing the risk factors for your heart is the first step in taking control of your heart health. A risk factor is a certain lifestyle behaviour, personal factor or environmental condition that negatively effects a person’s heart health. The more risk factors surround you, the higher your chances of developing heart health issues. Some risk factors can be changed, while others can’t. 

Risk factors for heart health and how you can improve yours

Age and gender

Your age is a key contributor to the state of your heart health. The older you get the higher your risk of heart problems. Your gender is also an important consideration,seeing as males are more likely to develop heart disease.

Smoking

Smoking cigarettes, can affect your heart health and could increase your risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 50%. If you quit, you will reap the benefits much quicker than you think and not only for your heart but also for your health in general.

High blood pressure

Elevated or high blood pressure can be unhealthy for your heart, but it’s easy to detect and can be managed by moving to a healthy diet and lifestyle, and for some people, medication. It’s worth getting your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist because not everyone shows symptoms initially

High blood cholesterol

Raised cholesterol is not good for your heart health. It can lead to the build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries and cause them to narrow, making it more difficult for your heart to pump blood around the body. The only way to know what your cholesterol levels are is to have them checked. The good news is that high cholesterol can be managed with simple changes to your diet and lifestyle and by making these simple changes you can positively impact your cholesterol levels .

Diabetes

Diabetes has a significant effect on your heart health. It also increases the effects of other risk factors such as smoking, unhealthy blood pressure or cholesterol, and obesity. However, with the correct treatment and by making positive changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can reduce the effect of diabetes on your heart health.

Family history of premature heart problems

Family in this context refers to your family history when it comes to your heart disease. The age at which your immediate family developed heart disease is important in determining your risk factor if you have a father or brother who developed heart disease before the age of 55, or a mothers or sister who developed heart disease before the age of 65, your risk factor is very high. It’s important to know your family’s history with heart disease and if you are at risk to adopt the necessary diet and lifestyle changes to maintain good heart health.

Being overweight

Being overweight is not good for your heart, as it increases other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Even small reductions in your weight can make a positive difference to your heart. It’s important to speak to your healthcare professional about the right changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to improve your weight.

Excessive alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can be harmful to your heart health, as it can cause issues such as high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and weight gain (seeing as alcoholic beverages have a high caloric content). So, drink alcohol in moderation and keep to the recommended 1-2 units per day.

Stress

Although stress is not directly related to serious heart problems, unfortunately, the way some of us cope with stress, like smoking, eating junk food or drinking too much alcohol, can affect heart health. Therefore it’s important to learn how to cope with stress in a healthy way such as by keeping active, maintaining a healthy diet and learning how to relax.

This website is full of ideas and tips to help you make small changes to your diet and lifestyle .They will make a difference to your heart health and quality of life. It’s never too late to learn to love your heart!