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Love your heart this February

User AvatarPosted by Bobbie Walkem-Smith at 31/01/2014 10:38:46

NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging people to look at adopting lifestyle changes during February’s Healthy Heart Month.

In the Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Faversham, Sandwich and Ash areas, 7,160 people are registered as having coronary heart disease (CHD) – more than 3.3 per cent of the population. And many more people may have the disease but are yet to be diagnosed.

The usual cause of CHD is a build-up of fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries that surround the heart. This can make coronary arteries narrower and restrict the flow of blood to the heart which increases the risk of heart attack. People are at higher risk if they: 

• Smoke
• Have high blood pressure (hypertension)
• Have a high blood cholesterol level
• Do not take regular exercise
• Have diabetes.

Other risk factors include being obese or overweight and having a family history of CHD. This risk is increased if someone has a male relative with CHD under the age of 55 or a female relative under the age of 65.

People from an African Caribbean background have a higher risk of high blood pressure than all other ethnic groups in the UK. Coronary heart disease rates are at their highest in South Asian communities.

The good news, however, is that there are many ways of reducing the risk of CHD and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These include:

• Eating a balanced and healthy diet – and going easy on salt
• Avoiding eating too much food that contains saturated fat, such as cakes and biscuits, cream and hard cheese
• Being more physically active
• Keeping to a healthy weight
• Quitting smoking
• Reducing alcohol consumption and sticking to recommended guidelines
• Keeping blood pressure under control
• Cutting down on sugar – too much sugar in the diet can increase the chances of diabetes which will, in turn, increase the chances of developing CHD.

The CCG’s clinical lead for long-term conditions, Dr John Ribchester, said: “We know that more than 7,000 people have coronary heart disease in the local area, but it is quite likely that many more people may have problems with their heart that they are unaware of.

“In the majority of cases, the risk of developing heart disease can easily be reduced. Quitting smoking, losing weight or being active are all proven ways of helping to reduce the risk.”

Healthy Heart Month runs from 1 to 28 February. For more information about heart disease, visit the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk or the British Heart Foundation website www.bhf.org.uk.