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Healthy heart

Love your heart

Lifestyle has a big impact on our health as we grow older. People who are physically active, eat well and maintain a healthy weight are less likely to get heart disease or have a stroke. We should all be thinking about our heart health and what we can do to keep as healthy as possible.

A fatty diet can raise your cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. You’re twice as likely to have a heart attack if you smoke. If you have family history of cardiovascular disease, make sure you tell your GP. They may want to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Lack of blood to the heart can seriously damage the heart muscle.

Symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain: The chest can feel like it is being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling weak and/or lightheaded.
  • Overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

Prevention:

There are five main steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack (or having another heart attack): Eat a healthy diet, lose weight if you need to, exercise regularly, do not smoke (or quit now) and be careful with alcohol.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Strokes are a medical emergency and fast treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

Symptoms:

The Face-Arm-Speech-Time (FAST) test lists the main symptoms to look out for:

  • Face. Has the person's face fallen on one side? Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • Arms. Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech. Is their speech slurred?
  • Time. It's time to call 999 if you see one or more of these signs.

Prevention:

Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, do not smoke (or quit now) and be careful with alcohol.

'Love your Heart' tips:

  1. Get checked. Ask your GP about having a health check to assess your risk of developing heart disease.
  2. Stop smoking, now!
  3. Get moving.
  4. Lose weight if you need to.
  5. Change shape. Your shape matters as well as your weight, if you have excess fat around your middle (apple shape) you are at higher risk of heart attack.
  6. Drink wisely. Drinking a little alcohol regularly may be good for your heart, but make sure you stay within the recommended limits.
  7. Balance your diet.
  8. Cut down on salt.
  9. Manage your stress.
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