Keep your heart healthy in 2024 with these top tips

By HarperLees

Your heart beats 100,000 times a day, yet if you haven’t had a health problem, you may not have paused to think about taking good care of it.

If this sounds like you, now might be a great time to change that.

According to the British Heart Foundation, 7.6 million people in the UK were living with heart and circulatory diseases in 2023. And it’s estimated that half of Brits will develop a heart or circulatory condition during their lifetime.

Fortunately, there are a variety of relatively simple ways to keep your heart healthy. Read on for top tips from cardiologists that could help you achieve better heart health.

1. Adopt a Mediterranean diet

High in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is recognised across the world as one of the most healthy ways to eat.

The key benefit of sticking to this mostly plant-based diet is that it emphasises healthy fats – namely olive oil, which is often linked to good heart health.

It can be tough to change your diet in one go. Instead, make incremental improvements by adding more healthy Mediterranean foods to your daily diet.

2. Cut down on saturated fats

If you make only a single diet change, switch away from saturated fats (such as butter, cheese, cakes, biscuits, fatty meat, sausages, and bacon), and turn your attention to unsaturated fat (such as olive oil, sunflower oil, nuts, seeds, and oily fish).

When it comes to measuring your intake of saturated fats, the NHS recommends that:

  • Men should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day
  • Women should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.

So, next time you feel peckish, instead of munching a biscuit, try a handful of nuts. You’d be surprised how filling they can be. Plus, with so many different nuts available, you’ll be spoilt for choice – which may go some way to motivating you to continue making healthy food choices.

3. Exercise a few times a week, but be aware of your limitations

Exercise is among the best ways to improve your heart health. Indeed, the NHS recommends that you fit 150 minutes of moderately intense activity into a week.

Depending on your level of fitness, this could be a brisk walk that makes you a little breathless or 75 minutes of higher intensity exercise, such as running or cycling.

If your body isn’t used to exercise, make sure you build up slowly and carefully. And if you smoke or have a family history of coronary disease, factor this in to what exercise might be appropriate for you. In these cases, it may be wise to consult your GP before you commence a new exercise regime.

4. Find opportunities for movement throughout the day

A sedentary lifestyle can be bad for you, but adding small, regular activities into your day can make a noticeable difference to your health and heart.

While the NHS guidance states that adults should achieve at least 150-minutes of physical activity each week, very few people currently reach this target. Plus, trying to achieve this goal if you’re currently inactive will require you to make significant changes to your life and weekly schedule.

The good news is that small, frequent doses of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the day could be far easier to achieve, and could produce the same healthy effects.

Small bursts of activity should last between two and five minutes, and could include:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the escalator, or lift
  • Walking while you make a phone call
  • Getting off the bus one stop early or parking your car a little further away and walking the rest of the route.

5. Develop a healthy sleep routine

Your heart is a muscle that needs to be rested as well as fuelled. Adopting a healthy sleep routine can help ensure you get enough good-quality sleep every day.

To maintain optimal health, you should aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

If you have a hard time falling asleep, consider altering your bedtime routine. The best way to prepare your body for sleep is to relax and wind-down at the end of the day. Listen to music, read a book, or have a bath – build whatever you find relaxing into your evening.

Finally, give yourself enough time to eat and digest your meal before bed. And avoid alcohol, coffee, and nicotine in the three to four hours before you intend to sleep.

6. Investigate any inherited heart problems you might have

For some families, history repeats itself and loved ones from every generation are lost to heart attacks.

Even if you make heart-healthy choices, the DNA you inherited from your parents plays a major role in determining your risk of heart disease.

If someone in your family has had a heart attack under the age of 60 or has been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition, it’s vital to speak to your doctor to assess your own risk and how to manage it.

7. Learn how to perform CPR

Someone in the UK is admitted to hospital due to a heart attack every five minutes.

With heart attacks so prevalent, learning how to do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) could save someone’s life.

The British Heart Foundation website teaches you how to do CPR in 15 minutes – all you need is a cushion and your mobile phone.

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Taking good care of your heart could help you to live a longer and healthier life.

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Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.