Do you worry about your heart health? I’m not sure that it would sit right up there as a priority for many of my clients and peers. Whilst we talk about wanting to be healthy, much of our energy is focused on how we look or what size we are. I find that fascinating particularly in light of the statistics that are plain to see on the British Heart Foundation website. According to their research every day 420 people will lose their lives to cardiovascular disease (CVD). More than 115 of those people will be younger than 75 years of age. 7 million people fight daily battles with CVD. 545 people will go to hospital due to a heart attack. 180 people will die from a heart attack and 12 babies will be diagnosed with a heart defect.
A life saved
Looking at those statistics makes heart health feel like a real priority for us all. I am going to share a story with you that really brought it home to me. A lady knocked on my front door a couple of weeks ago looking for an Ambulance Technician. It turns out that she was in the right place as it was my husband that she was looking for. In her words he had ‘saved her life.’ She had been experiencing chest pain and an ambulance had been called. My husband was one of that crew. She had a heart attack whilst they were there and they performed CPR. They got her to the hospital where she had extensive surgery.
She wanted to thank the crew who had saved her and to give them a card. It was highly emotional and she wanted to assure them both that she was going to make the most of the second chance that she and her family had been given. It struck me at that point how important it is that we take care of ourselves. Not everyone is as lucky as the lady in my story. As you will know if you have ever attended first aid training it is what happens in the 4 minutes after a heart attack that will determine your chances of survival. You may be lucky and there may be someone on hand that knows how to perform CPR. You may be lucky and an ambulance may get to you in time. In reality only 1 in 10 of heart attacks that happen outside a hospital have a positive outcome.
A Safer Strategy
I would suggest that a safer strategy would be to look after yourself and to take the necessary steps to reduce your chances of having a heart attack or suffering from CVD. The British Heart Foundation tell us that Coronary Heart Disease is the most common type of CVD. ‘It occurs when coronary arteries become narrowed by a build up of atheroma, a fatty material within their walls. The pain or discomfort felt from such narrowing is called angina and if a blockage occurs it can cause a myocardial infarction (heart attack).’
There are a number of risk factors that make it more likely that you could have a heart attack.
- High Blood Pressure – means that you are 3 times more likely to develop heart disease or to have a stroke
- High Blood Cholesterol
- Diabetes can make you twice as likely to develop CVD
- Being Overweight or Obese
- Poor diet and being inactive
- Drinking more than recommended limits
Looking at those factors, it comes as no surprise that we can take action easily and make a real difference to the odds of us suffering from CVD and associated conditions. It all comes down to looking after yourself and listening to the advice that we are given. It is believed that 2 in 5 adults do not achieve the recommended exercise levels each day and less than 1 in 4 adults and children eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Added to that 1 in 4 adults exceed the suggested alcohol intake levels. All of these figures can be found on the BHF website and I am sure do not come as any surprise. We all know what we need to do, however taking action appears to be really hard for so many. We have busy diaries and lots of commitments but this is your health. What you do day in day out has a real impact. Our NHS is struggling to cope with the demands that are being put on it. CVD puts a huge strain on resources. Remember the figures that I quoted at the start that 7 million people fight daily battles with CVD. 545 will go to hospital following a heart attack EVERY DAY.
Prevention of CVD
Whilst taking care of ourselves, taking more exercise and eating better will not guarantee good health it will give you the best possible chance of survival and recovery. Prevention of CVD is centred around healthy eating, being active, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, reducing high blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and managing diabetes. There are so many resources out there to help you to do all those things. It is up to you to take action and to make your heart health a priority.
Why I am walking 62 miles to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation
As many of you know my Dad had heart surgery and was lucky to be given a new lease of life. As such this is a cause close to my heart! Katrina and I are walking from Glasgow to Edinburgh on Saturday 21st July – 62 miles – to raise funds for BHF. It would be great if you could sponsor us for this challenge. Even a couple of pounds will really make a difference and help us on our way. We are in training and building up our mileage. We took part in the Starlight Walk for the Ayrshire Hospice last Saturday as part of our strategy to help cope with staying awake and walking for more than 24 hours. It won’t be easy but we are determined to achieve our goal and get to Murrayfield as quickly as we can!
If you would like to make a donation then you can do so here. Thank you for your support.
Where can you start?
It can be really hard to know where to start with getting fitter and changing your lifestyle. A great place to start is my book ‘Moving More – Finding your path to a stronger, healthier. happier you.’I wrote this as a plan that you can follow whatever your starting point. You can use it to start at the very beginning or to build to the next level. It is full of advice from clients who have already made changes and are keen to help you to do the same. It brings together more than 7 years experience of my work as a Personal Trainer combined with tips and strategies that take into account busy lives.
Free resources to get you moving
If you are looking for ways to be more active then I have a number of free resources available to you on my website. For those of you who run there is my Run Series which gives you lots of sessions you can use to boost your speed, endurance and stamina. You can access my free fit4evermore Core Challenge by entering your details on my website. This is a workout that you complete at home, no equipment required that will soon have your core strong and in better shape. There are free workouts on my YouTube channel which can also be accessed through my website.
For help with your diet I would recommend having a look through my blog posts. Here are 2 that will get you started. Try Easy Food Swaps to Lower Blood Sugar and Boost Energy Fast or What you should know about intermittent fasting and why it works
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