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Tips for a healthy heart

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As we age, our risk of developing a heart-related condition increases. This can have an impact on quality of life and independence.

For these reasons, you should make it a priority to look after your heart health. You can find out your heart age on the NHS website which gives you an idea of how healthy your heart is.

Here's our six top tips to help you:  

1. Boost your diet

Eating a healthy diet is one of the most effective ways to improve your heart health. Having a diet of nutritious foods, can reduce your risk of heart disease, control your blood pressure, and keep your cholesterol in check (whilst also increasing your energy levels and potentially losing excess weight).

  • Get your five a day - fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Try to vary the colour on your plate.

  • Reduce your salt intake - opt for green or yellow salt ratings on the food you’re eating and resist the temptation to add salt to meals and cooking.

  • Choose wholegrains - these are rich in nutrition and will help to keep your cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control. 

  • Eat more healthy fats - too much-saturated fat can increase your cholesterol levels. Instead, try olive oil, avocados, nuts, and oily fish rich in omega 3 such as salmon and mackerel.

2. Keep active

Exercise is an excellent way to improve your heart health and will help you stay active and independent. If you can get outside, start by taking gentle walks or taking part in a fun activity with your local gym or MHA Communities group. Swimming is also highly beneficial as it doesn’t put additional weight on your joints.

If you’re unable to get out and about, why not try some chair-based exercises.

3. Get an NHS Health Check

NHS England offers free health checks for people aged 40-74. This can help identify the early signs of heart disease as well as understand your risk of other conditions that can affect you in later life. You will also receive advice on how you can take better care of your health. Simply contact your GP or local pharmacy to arrive at an appointment.

4. Prioritise sleep and rest

Sleep is the foundation to great health, whatever your age. By getting enough sleep, you’ll help your body rest and repair, boost your energy levels and improve your overall immune system. Try to aim for at least 6-9 hours of sleep per night, and try to get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at a similar time. Even if you’re in bed and can’t get to sleep, being in a restful state is still beneficial as it is helping your body wind down from the day.

5. Reduce your stress

Being stressed can also increase your risk of heart disease and your likelihood of developing high blood pressure. It can also impact your mental health wellbeing which is why it’s important to take steps to manage your stress levels throughout your life.

Our Digital Content Specialist has written a blog post about staying positive during hard times which might be helpful

6. Give up smoking

If you currently smoke, your heart health would improve within days of quitting smoking. Within a year, your risk of heart disease will be halved, your cholesterol levels will return to normal and you can reverse damage to your arteries. That’s not to mention the benefits it will have on your energy levels, appetite and budget. 

It’s never too late to quit. Get support from your GP, local pharmacy, or a stop smoking service.

Page last updated: June 2023.