5 Steps to Heart Health

With around 10,000 people suffering from Cardiovascular Disease annually, heart-related illnesses are now the number one cause of death in Ireland. According to the HSE, Coronary Heart Disease, including heart attack, accounts for 22% of all deaths recorded annually.

Having a healthy heart is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Failing to take care of your heart health induces Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). CHD occurs due to blockages in the major arteries surrounding the heart. These blockages occur due to the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries. Increased blockages can lead to chest pains and ultimately heart attack. Many precautions can be taken to lower your risk of CHD, allowing for the development of a healthy heart. Heart disease is preventable, and we believe that by following Life Pharmacy’s “5 Top Tips for a Healthy Heart” you could be on the road to a long and healthy life.

Top Tips:

Forget Cigarettes: Smoking is undoubtedly the greatest inducer of cardiovascular disease. If you are a smoker it is time to forget cigarettes, as smoking will inevitably lead to heart disease. Smoking damages the lining of the arteries surrounding the heart, allowing for the build-up of fatty deposits. As mentioned above, fatty deposits can lead to blockages of the coronary artery, inducing heart attack and death. If you are a smoker that has had difficulty with quitting in the past or if you wish to begin the process of quitting, do not hesitate to speak with your local Life Pharmacist. Your Life Pharmacist will be on hand to give you expert advice on the cessation method that works best for you. By quitting smoking you can decrease your risk of heart attack, allowing you to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Avoid Excessive Alcohol: Although you may have heard that having the occasional glass of red wine may be good for the heart, the consumption of large volumes of alcohol has been determined as a major contributor to CHD. Alcohol causes high blood pressure, which greatly increases the risk of heart attack. For more information on high blood pressure check out our recent blog. Binge drinking has been identified as an inducer of cardiomyopathy, the weakening of heart muscle, while also causing an irregular heartbeat. Cardiomyopathy reduces the body’s ability to pump blood efficiently, leading to premature death. To cut down on drinking, spend less time in the pub and partake in a new hobby that will get you active, helping you to dodge the drink.

Get in Shape: Exercise is crucial in the fight against obesity and CVD. Being active and exercising for around 30mins, 5 times a week, has been scientifically proven to strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure and burn off stress. An active lifestyle can also help you maintain a healthy weight and sleep better. Why not try walking, jogging or swimming if you are new to or are returning to exercise after a long break? Others may opt to join a gym, making use of both fixed and free weights, along with a variety of cardio (aerobic) equipment. A fun way to stay in shape would be to take part in a five aside soccer league or join a tag rugby team with friends.

Eat Right: Having a balanced diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Eating the right foods in the right portion sizes will help to lower your risk of CHD. Diets that are high in saturated fats and sugars greatly increase the risk of CVD. Saturated fats, found in fried foods, causes cholesterol and other fatty deposits to build up in arteries, leading to stroke. Healthy, unsaturated fats can be obtained from vegetable sources and provide many health benefits. Fruits and vegetables are great heart-healthy foods, as they provide much-needed fibre, vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget your five a day if you wish to lower your risk of CVD! Eating healthy proteins, such as poultry, and grains, such as potatoes and pasta, which are low in fat and cholesterol, will help to lower your risk of CVD. Speak to your Life Pharmacist if you have any questions regarding diet or supplements that can make your heart healthy again.

Seek Medical Advice: Regardless of CVD risk, Irish people should schedule a check-up with their GP at least once a year. Our selected Life Pharmacies can provide you with an array of CVD tests including cholesterol tests, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) tests. These tests will give you a strong understanding of your CVD risk. If a CVD risk is identified, your pharmacist may refer you to a GP or discuss with you possible treatment options. Some treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medications and supplements.