Six Top Tips To Prevent Heart Disease

Use these key top tips for a healthy heart and reduce your risk of disease.

Six Top Tips To Prevent Heart Disease photo

Diet and lifestyle top tips for a healthy heart.

Your heart is a muscle about fist sized, located in the centre of the chest slightly to the left of the breastbone. It is responsible for continuously pumping blood around your body to carry oxygen and nutrients to cells and to remove carbon dioxide and waste products from cells. There are a number of lifestyle choices that we make to help keep our heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart diseases.

1. Quit smoking

Tobacco smoking has been a major contributor to heart disease over the years. There are many support groups to help you quit this most addictive substance. The benefits of quitting are improved breathing and energy levels in addition to a reduced risk of heart conditions.

2. Have a dental check up

There is evidence that a link exists between your oral health and cardiovascular disease risk. Dental infection, tooth loss and periodontitis have an association with increased risk of arrhythmias, heart failure, stroke and myocardial infarction. Ensuring your oral health is in great shape is one way to help your heart health!

3. Get moving!

Physical exercise is one of the best ways to support your heart health. Your heart is a muscle and needs daily exercise that requires it to pump faster and stronger for periods to help maintain its function. Exercise also helps you manage your weight and stress levels in addition to helping your blood pressure and blood circulation. Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. You could achieve this by going for a brisk 30-minute walk 5 times per week, or 6x 20 minutes of brisk walking plus a 30-minute resistance/strength training session.

4. Get plenty of sleep

When our sleep is disturbed, either through night-time waking, insomnia or through shift-working, this disrupts the natural rhythms of our body. A knock-on effect of this disturbance is on our cardiovascular and metabolic health, increasing the risk of heart diseases. Aim to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night by practicing great sleep hygiene: sleep in a dark cool room, lower light levels and switch off screens at least an hour before bedtime and ensure you eat at least 3 hours before you retire.

5. Manage your stress levels

Some stress is good for us, but excessive and chronic stress is not! Not surprisingly, high ongoing stress has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. There are lots of ways you can support your stress level, here are a few you may like to try: slow deep breathing (count as you breath, inhale for 4, exhale for 4), meditation, mindfulness, tai chi, yoga, journaling, a gentle daily stroll in nature, gardening (including indoors)

6. Manage your weight

An increase in your weight and your waistline both contribute to an increased risk of heart disease. There are many ways to improve your weight and waistline including eating the right amount of food that creates a balanced healthy diet (see our dietary recommendations for a healthy heart), getting your daily dose of exercise and managing your stress levels so you are less inclined to “comfort eat”. Eating the right amount of food means ensuring you eat at least enough to meet your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your activity level. Once you know this, you can reduce your intake by around 200 Kcal per day to slowly reduce your weight without causing stress in your body through perceived “starvation”. A healthy waistline is <102cm for men and <88cm for women.

Managing your sleep, weight, stress levels, keeping active and quitting smoking, plus visiting your dentist regularly, are all great top tips for a healthy heart and can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and any associated health conditions.

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Donders, H.C.M., et al. (2021) The association between periodontitis and cardiovascular risks in asymptomatic healthy patients. International Journal of Cardiology Cardiovascular Risk and Prevention, [online] 11, p.200110.

Lee, H.J., et al. (2019) Tooth Loss Predicts Myocardial Infarction, Heart Failure, Stroke, and Death. Journal of Dental Research, 98(2), pp.164–170.

van der Meer, R.E. and Maas, A.H. (2021) The Role of Mental Stress in Ischaemia with No Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease and Coronary Vasomotor Disorders. European Cardiology Review, [online] 16.