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February has long been associated with affairs of the heart, but it’s also a great time to take interest in the physical wellbeing of our hearts! One of the body’s major organs, the heart is vital to our overall health – but many people are unaware of their “vital statistics” in this area.
So, while you may feel fit and well, do you know if your heart health is right for your age? There are a number tests and simple preventative steps that you could take to put your mind at rest:
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
Blood pressure and cholesterol are some of the most important attributable risk factors of cardiovascular disease (CVD), alongside smoking, alcohol and obesity. Blood pressure (BP) is a measure of the pressure on the heart when it pumps out blood round the body, over the pressure when the body is resting. BP increases as you get older, put on weight, become less active, drink more alcohol and eat more salt. The ideal BP is between 90/60 and 120/180.
It’s also important to check out your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is found in dairy and meat products and there are two type; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which can block the arteries and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which has a protective effect. Ideally, cholesterol should be under 5mmol/l and LDL under 3mmo/l – but you should have your results interpreted by a healthcare professional who will take other risk factors into consideration to assess your overall risk and advise on any lifestyle changes or medication needed.
Tests are available at the GP and your local pharmacy.
TAKE THE AGE TEST
Age is a vital factor in heart health. Under-40s are generally at low risk but you should see your GP if a close relative has had a heart attack or stroke at a young age (under 55 for a man or under 65 for a female family member). There are some new tools available online to check your “heart age” - visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/check-your-heart-age-tool
It’s well documented that improving lifestyle factors can have a beneficial effect on long term hearth health. This includes quitting smoking, keeping alcohol consumption within moderation, increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, two and half hours a week of moderate physical activity lowers your risk on CVD by a third.
You could also have a health screen to check your heart health. A range of sophisticated scanning techniques can now be used to help identify elevated risk factors or initial stages of disease, where symptoms have yet to appear. If a problem is identified through screening, it is more likely that early treatment can be offered. London Medical Concierge’s offers a range of screening packages including GP Health Screen consisting of an in-depth GP consultation, blood tests and a cardiac check via an ECG.
For more information on heart health visit https://www.bhf.org.uk/