Protect your Heart

Why is Heart Health Important?heart

The heart is a muscle which pumps blood around the body. It is essential that we look after our heart as it provides both oxygen and nutrients to every cell within the body.

As highlighted by the British Heart Foundation Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK. The disease affects one in six men and more heartthan one in ten women. (1)

Through some small preventative measures we can help keep the heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease in the future.

 

What Increases my Risk of Heart Disease?

 

High Cholesterol

 

Too much of the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and not enough of the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol can clog the arteries. The damage is if a blockage occurs near the heart this can result in a heart attack. Simple steps to a healthy cholesterol level are; consuming a balanced diet high in vegetables, increasing physical activity levels, drinking in moderation and quit smoking.

 

High blood pressure

 

High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease. Be mindful of your salt intake by reducing processed foods and avoid adding salt at the table. If necessary add salt during the cooking process (most will be lost in the water).

 

Weight

 

Maintaining a healthy weight is very important. Excess weight stored around the middle puts extra strain on the internal organs, including the heart. As a guideline a healthy BMI is considered 18.5-24.9. (2) Set yourself a target and remember, people who lose weight gradually are more likely to keep it off. Do not think of weight loss as a diet, it’s a lifestyle change we adjust to through healthy eating and exercise.

 

How Can I Reduce my Risk of Heart Disease?

 

Eat a balanced diet

 

Reduce the processed foods and increase your veggies! Research has shown that as the quantity of vegetables consumed in the diet increases the risk of coronary heart disease decreases (3) Remember fresh, frozen or tinned vegetables (in water) we want them in our diet.

 

Get Moving

 

Physical activity helps manage weight and blood pressure which together help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The British Heart Foundation recommend building up to 30 minutes of physical activity daily to help prevent cardiovascular disease (4) For that reason try to incorporate more physical activity into your daily lives and just as you would with your players, don’t forget to monitor your own personal progress!

 

Take Responsibility

 

Make your health your responsibility, and remember that healthy habits will also benefit your partner, children and team members.

 

References:

(1) British Heart Foundation. (2013). Cardiovascular disease statistics. [Online] Available: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart%20health/facts%20and%20statistics.aspx. Last accessed 28/01/2014.

(2) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2014). Calculate Your Body Mass Index. {Online] Available: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm. Last accessed 24/01/2014.

(3) Shilpa N Bhupathiraju, Nicole M Wedick, An Pan, JoAnn E Manson, Kathyrn M Rexrode, Walter C Willett, Eric B Rimm, and Frank B Hu. (2013). Quantity and variety in fruit and vegetable intake and risk of coronary heart disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 98 (6), 1514-1523.

(4) British Heart Foundation. (2013). Staying active. [Online] Available: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/staying-active.aspx. Last accessed 28/01/2014.

About the Author
Julie Cooke
Author: Julie Cooke

Julie is one of Wellness International's Healthcare Practitioners and has a special interest in Nutrition. Julie has an MSc Nutritional Therapy from the University of Worcester and completed her BSc at the Manchester Met Uni in Food and Nutrition.


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