At this time of year, when shops are full of love hearts, chocolates and red roses, it’s hard not to think about matters of the heart.
But experts at Epsom and St Helier hospitals are encouraging people to think about their hearts in a different way this Valentine’s Day, and to make sure your heart is a healthy one.
The Trust’s leading consultant cardiologist, Dr Richard Bogle said: “Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and as such we want people to take the opportunity to think about their hearts.
“The heart is our most important muscle. It is paramount that we do all we can to keep it healthy, as the consequences of not looking after your heart can be devastating. Statistics from the British Heart Foundation shows that heart and coronary disease kills more than one in four people in the UK.
“However, there are simple steps we can all take to ensure we keep our hearts fit and healthy. These include, not smoking, being active and eating healthily”.
Dr Bogle’s top tips for a healthy heart are:
- Cut down on salt;
- Lose the saturated fats (those found in fatty meats such as burgers and sausages, as well as hard cheese like cheddar). This type of fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease;
- Eat more fruit and vegetables – it is always important to get your five a day;
- Eat whole wheat and wholegrain breads and pastas and choose brown or wild rice (if you have trouble moving to wholegrain pasta, try one which is a blend of whole grain and refined flours);
- Exercise regularly – adults should achieve 150 minutes of exercise every week.
Dr Bogle added: “I know that some of my healthy heart tips might sound difficult or even intimidating, but there’s a wealth of NHS advice online about taking small steps in the right direction – whether you would like support in starting exercises, stopping smoking or cutting down on certain foods, we are here to help.
“And of course, looking after your heart does not mean you can never treat yourself. For instance, it is okay to enjoy a little dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa), and even a bit of red wine can be consumed, as they are thought to be good for your heart.”
For more information about keeping your heart healthy, visit the national NHS website, NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk).