It is estimated that there are more than 6 million new cases of cardiovascular diseases in the EU and more than 11 million in Europe as a whole, every year, according to the 2019 report from the European Society of Cardiology. That’s a staggering number. It doesn’t have to be this way – there are small (but mighty) steps that you can take every day to minimise your risk of developing heart disease.
Take control of your vices
We know that you know – but we have to say it anyway. Drinking and smoking are the first things that need to go when it comes to minimising your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, if you smoke, you are four times more likely to die of heart disease, and three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac disease. The Finnish Heart Association advises that the recommended moderate consumption of alcohol is no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink for women, and alcohol should not be consumed daily. To keep your ticker ticking well into the future, it’s time to say farewell to unhealthy habits.
A healthy, balanced diet is critical to maintaining the health of your heart. Make a conscious effort every day to nourish your body with whole, minimally processed foods – fruits, vegetables, lean protein and importantly, wholegrains. Of course, a little treat every now and then is fine, as long as you make mostly healthy choices.
Shed the excess baggage
If getting on the scales makes you sweat, or your belt is getting a little tight around the mid-section, it’s time to take action. Carrying excess weight, and living an inactive lifestyle are two key factors that can see you develop heart disease. Both factors also increase your risk of developing other lifestyle diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Finnish Centre for Health Promotion Research at least 150 minutes (or 2 ½ hours) moderate intensity physical activity each week. Alternatively, at least 75 minutes (or 1 ¼ hours) of high intensity physical activity each week will also do the trick. Moving more, and making conscious choices when it comes to how you fuel your body can make a big difference when it comes to your waistline (and importantly, the health of your heart).
The Finnish Heart Association suggests that you should aim for a waist circumference of no more than 94 cm for men, and 80 cm for women.
Play the long game
Consistency is key when it comes to reducing your heart disease risk factors. Make slow, gradual changes that work with your lifestyle, so that you can keep them up well into the future. You heart will thank you for it.
Intended as general advice only. Consult your health care professional to discuss any specific concerns.
Source: The Healthy Grain