The Cardiac Rehabilitation Team at Epsom Hospital is encouraging all of us to put our hearts first this February, and not just for Valentine’s Day!
The team has been out and about sharing important information about matters of the heart, including a range of top tips for keeping our hearts as healthy as possible. Mary Evans, Cardiac Rehabilitation Clinical Nurse Specialist, explained: “Coronary heart disease (CHD) affects an estimated 2.3 million people in the UK, with an estimated 188,000 hospital visits each year due to heart attacks. Taking care of the heart is incredibly important for everyone, not just those who have experienced a cardiac illness or event (like a heart attack). In fact, a big part of good heart health is about helping to prevent heart disease and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“As part of our focus on Heart Month (which is every February), we put on a special Valentine’s event: armed with heart-shaped balloons and a range of important information at the ready, we were keen to spread the word about the importance of showing our own hearts a bit of love!”
The advice shared by the team included:
- Quit smoking (call Smokefree on 0845 602 3608)
- Eat a healthy balanced diet, including:
- at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables each day
- starchy foods at breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta
- some meat (obvious fat removed), fish (two portions per week, including one portion of oily fish), eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- some milk and dairy foods – choose lower-fat varieties
- a small amount of food and drinks high in fat, sugar, or both
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your salt intake
- Drink less alcohol (up to a maximum of 14 units per week, with three alcohol free days per week)
- Keep active (150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 30 minutes, five days per week).
Mary added: “The key advice we always share with people is quite straightforward and hopefully isn’t as daunting as people sometimes think! A healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity can help you keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels, and improve your heart health. A healthy lifestyle can also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (a known risk for heart disease), and help prevent other health problems, such as kidney disease and some cancers.”
As well as focusing on maintaining a healthy heart, the team were also keen to encourage people to consider becoming an organ donor. Mary said: “Although more than 10,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant, only around 3,000 transplants actually take place each year. By adding your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register you may one day save lives. All you need to do is visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/ to find our more and fill in a form if you do decide to become an organ donor.”
For more information about heart health, you can visit the British Heart Foundation (BHF) website: www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health.
You can find out more about the Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme at both Epsom and St Helier hospitals by visiting www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/cardiology.