WITH Valentine’s Day just around the corner matters of the heart are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but an award-winning health and wellbeing physiologist says people shouldn’t forget to love their hearts this February.

Around 160,000 people die from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK each year* and Aidan Innes from Nuffield Health Hospital Newcastle says lifestyle can play a big part in how healthy your heart is.

To help the region look after their hearts, Aidan has put together his top tips on loving your ticker this Valentine’s Day, and beyond.

Exercise regularly

Regularly exercising improves the efficiency of the heart’s ability to pump blood round the body. It can be hard to make time for it, but 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise per week as a minimum is highly recommended. Regular exercise will also help to improve and maintain physiological function. A healthier heart means a decreased risk of heart disease as well as almost all other lifestyle-related diseases, including cancer and type-2-diabetes.

What to eat

It seems obvious to say that eating well will help your health but there are certain foods that are great for the heart. Oily fish such as fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids and are therefore the most beneficial.

Other foods such as nuts, olives, avocados, and olive oil will all help increase your HDL (good) cholesterol as well. Eating these foods with high levels of good cholesterol can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.

What to be careful about eating

We aren’t saying people shouldn’t eat these things but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on how much you are eating. Eating red and processed meat will make it more likely that LDL (bad) cholesterol, and the chances of heart disease, will increase. We would recommend people limit eating these kinds of meats to a couple of times a week.

Also try and limit salt consumption, this will help maintain and improve blood pressure and therefore reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to many problems with health, including to your heart. Try and stick to the NHS recommended daily alcohol intake – men and women are both advised not to drink more than 14 units a week (this equates to around six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength of wine).

Quit smoking

We all know that smoking leads to many health risks and it is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. If you’ve been a smoker for a while don’t think that it’s too late to quit – a year after giving up, the risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital offers a variety of health assessments, designed to give you a comprehensive view of your health covering key health concerns such as diabetes, heart health, cancer risk and emotional wellbeing.

For more information, visit www.nuffieldhealth.com/health-assessments or call 0333 305 7077.

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