●● DR Paul Bowen, 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 would take the opportunity to talk about maintaining a healthy heart and circulation.
It’s a sad fact that heart attacks kill hundreds of people in Eastern Cheshire each year.
Many more people will have heart attacks, strokes or angina that are thankfully not fatal, but will leave people disabled and traumatised.
Heart attacks happen because of clots forming in the blood vessels around the heart.
They block off blood, and therefore oxygen, to the heart muscle, resulting in severe chest pain, breathlessness, sweatiness and nausea.
Collapse and the heart stopping can follow, warning signs can be similar, and 999 should be called if these symptoms develop.
See your GP if you are worried about recent symptoms like chest pains.
But prevention is better than cure, and there are lots of things that we can do to reduce the chance of a heart attack.
The circulation to our heart, as well as our brains and limbs, can be improved through:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet, being more physically active and maintaining a healthy weight
Stopping smoking – the most effective of all interventions
Checking your blood pressure and keeping it well under control
Checking your cholesterol from the age of 40, especially if you have a family history of stroke or cardiovascular disease
Limiting the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g a day, as too much salt will increase your blood pressure.
Regular exercise will also make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
If you have high blood pressure, ask your practice nurse to check it regularly.
Taking medication for blood pressure, or statins for cholesterol, can significantly reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Discuss your risk of heart disease with your practice nurse or GP, having had these checked first.