You’re young, you’re fit, you’re female……you might think that this doesn’t really affect you, but our heart is something we should be looking after and isn’t simply an old age, obese, male issue. In actual fact heart disease happen to just as many women as men, kills more than twice as many women than breast cancer, and the risk is rising for the 20-39 age group. My aim isn't to scare anyone, but being aware of the preventative measures is really important. Here are key ways of protecting your life blood:
Don’t smoke – you don’t need me to tell you this is bad for your blood pressure! It’s one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. The NHS states that a year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
Eat healthily – go as natural and process-free as possible
Drop the saturated fats as these are bad for your cholesterol levels (the HDL ones). Instead go for lean protein and opt for the healthier omega 3 fats to help with your good cholesterol (LDL).
Always go for your 5 a day to get a range of vitamins and minerals
Eat more fibre (wholegrains and fruit)
Cut down on salt
Check your sugar intake – there are so many hidden sugars in things we buy so check what you’re eating if you decide to eat things that aren’t 100% natural (ie ketchup, sports drinks, dressings etc)
Keep your weight down – having excess weight puts a lot of strain on the heart and affects cholesterol and glucose levels. Do this with a combination of healthy eating and exercise.
Get active – it’s important to get your heart rate up (ideally about 150 mins per week) as this will help lower your blood pressure, as well as it helping lift your mood and de-stressing you. Leading a sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood sugars etc.
Relax – take time to take a holiday, a day off, a trip to the park….whatever allows you to leave the stresses of work behind. Being stressed and getting angry doesn’t help our blood pressure, so make sure you schedule in ‘me time’ every now and again.
Don’t go crazy with alcohol - excessive consumption can cause cardiomyopathy and increased blood pressure
If you are in a high risk category already or you have a family history of coronary heart disease then also make sure that you know what to look for in terms of symptoms and checking your figures (cholesterol, blood pressure etc). Heart attacks for example, show themselves differently in women to men.
All very obvious tips, but not necessarily things everyone takes note of. Our lives mean we are more sedentary than our parents would have been at our age and we're constantly in a rush and therefore not always making the best most informed choices. Be smart now and you’ll reap the rewards later in life
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