Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk
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The Mayo Clinic says: “Heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) occur when the electrical signals that coordinate the heart’s beats don’t work properly. The faulty signalling causes the heart to beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or irregularly.” The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says fluttering feelings in the chest, palpitations, are a sign of heart disease.
Heart disease also covers conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or cause abnormal rhythms.
The CDC says: “Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia.”
The organisation suggests when these events happen, symptoms may include shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
There are around 7.6 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF). The charity suggests that with an ageing and growing population and improved survival rates from heart and circulatory events, we could see these numbers rise still further.
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The risk of heart disease can be lowered by adopting a healthy lifestyle, and there are certain foods to consider avoiding or cutting down on.
Research is ongoing but advice centres on a number of food and food groups to include and reduce.
Indeed, the BHF states: “A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stop you gaining weight, reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.”
If you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red or processed meat a day, the Department of Health and Social Care advises that you cut down to 70g.
Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. This includes sausages, bacon, ham, salami and pâtés, according to the NHS.
The NHS says if you eat a lot of red or processed meat, it’s also recommended that you cut down as there is likely to be a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.
The health body says: “A healthy balanced diet can include protein from meat, as well as from fish and eggs or non-animal sources such as beans and pulses. Meats such as chicken, pork, lamb and beef are all rich in protein.
“Red meat provides us with iron, zinc and B vitamins. Meat is one of the main sources of vitamin B12 in the diet.”
The BHF says that too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
It adds: “Eating too much salt can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.”
Moreover, if you drink alcohol, the BHF says it is important to keep within the recommended guidelines – whether you drink every day, once or twice a week or just occasionally.
Currently, the BHF says that healthcare costs relating to heart and circulatory diseases are estimated at £9 billion each year.
The Cleveland Clinic says you can reduce your cardiovascular risks by:
- Avoiding all tobacco products.
- Managing other health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Exercising at least 30 to 60 minutes per day on most days.
- Reducing and managing stress.
“It’s important to note that women or older adults may have more subtle symptoms, but still have serious cardiovascular disease,” it adds.
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