Feeling fit and healthy is a good place for anyone to be in – but do you really know how healthy your heart is and have a good understanding of your cardiovascular health, otherwise known as heart health, in general?
To coincide with the start of the 2018 Heart Age campaign Essex Private Doctors is helping patients to increase awareness of heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. In this blog Dr Kannan Athreya looks at the benefits of regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and why keeping an eye on your exercise levels, nutritional and alcohol intake is so important to your cardiovascular health.
Doctor Athreya comments:
“I have been pracitising as a doctor for the last 27 years, and of course during that time one sees many changes. When I first started as a houseman working all hours, a very common presentation for emergency care would be the middle-aged man with chest pain, usually due to a “heart attack”.That was a time when cholesterol testing was hardly ever done, and no-one had ever heard of the word “stenting”!Advances in medicines and models of preventative care now mean all of us are aware of the importance of regular cholesterol testing, blood pressure monitoring, and healthy lifestyles. Patients that have angina may be rapidly investigated with CT scans and then treated with procedures to improve blood flow long before there is any risk of damage to the heart, and we should all be grateful that this culture of prevention is now seen as the “norm”.Nevertheless, we still see and hear of people who do suffer heart attacks and strokes, and whilst some may be unpredictable, it would be a shame if this were to occur because we did not engage with care givers to better look after our own health.”
Healthy eating to prevent heart disease
There are multiple benefits of a healthy, balanced diet. Put simply, it can help to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease. In addition, when combined with regular exercise, a healthy diet can stop you gaining weight, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
A varied well-balanced diet – with at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, plus some meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and starchy foods – can also help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of some cancers.
To help look after your heart, you also need to eat the right type of fats, keep your alcohol intake within the recommended guidelines, and not eat too much salt, which can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Ideally you need to eat foods that contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
Get your cholesterol checked
The truth is, unless you get your cholesterol level checked you won’t know if it’s high and you face an increased risk of having heart problems or a stroke. You can have a high cholesterol level even if you are a healthy weight.
Lots of factors can result in high blood cholesterol, such as smoking, an unhealthy diet combined with a lack of exercise – plus underlying conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Get it checked, and get advice on improving your diet and how to be more physically active and you’ll be heading in the right direction.
High blood pressure is not easy to spot
There is only way to know for certain if you have high blood pressure, and that is to have it measured. Around seven million people in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure, and are therefore unaware of the risks they face.
High blood pressure means you are more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a stroke, as if it’s not treated your heart can become enlarged and pump less effectively.
If diagnosed, it’s possible that lifestyle changes can make a big difference: doing more regular exercise; reducing your weight; and dropping your salt and alcohol intakes.
If you don’t have high blood pressure, those lifestyle changes can help stop you developing it in future.
Just how healthy is your heart?
Find out your heart age, compared to your real age and receive valuable advice on how to lower it.
Complete the One You Heart Age Test.
To arrange a blood pressure or cholesterol check or cardiovascular consultation please contact our clinic on 01277 201001.