●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton, and executive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) AS February is National Heart Month, I thought I should take a few moments this week to offer a few tips on keeping your ticker in tip-top shape.
It’s a sad fact that 2.6 million people in the UK live with coronary heart disease (CHD), while each year in the Cheshire East local authority area, cardiovascular diseases kill about 237 people under the age of 75 for every 100,000 people.
Yet there are lots of things we can do to look after our hearts. We should all aim to: ●● Eat a healthy, balanced diet ●● Be more physically active ●● Maintain a healthy weight ●● Drink sensibly ●● Keep our blood pressure under control ●● And it goes without saying that smokers should try hard to quit.
A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, which should include five daily portions of fresh fruit and vegetables plus whole grains.
You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure.
Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight.
Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
You can find out the ideal weight for your age and height by visiting www.nhs.uk and searching for ‘healthy weight calculator’.
Men shouldn’t drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day, while women shouldn’t exceed two to three units.
Always avoid binge drinking as this increases the risk of a heart attack.
You can keep your blood pressure under control by eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat, exercising regularly and, if required, taking the appropriate medication to lower your blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, ask your GP to check it regularly.
Smoking causes furring of the arteries, which increases your risk of developing CHD.
Research has shown you are up to four times more likely to successfully give up smoking if you use NHS support together with stop-smoking medicines such as patches or gum.
●● Dr Paul Bowen