I have a family history of early heart attacks and cardiovascular disease which puts me at an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease or having a heart attack myself. My dad was in his early 40's when he suffered from a major heart attack and scarily I am only 10 years away from reaching this age myself and I really don't want to be in the same position.
I have been researching how I can reduce my risk of developing cardiovascular disease myself and these are some of the changes I have made/am planning to make:-
1 - Cut down on saturated fat
Eating a diet high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood which in turn can increase your risk of heart disease. As a woman, I should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat per day and I now obsessively check food labels to stay within my limits. The NHS has put together some tips on how to cut down on saturated fat which you can read here.
2 - Green tea extract
Green tea extract helps to regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease (along with other health benefits). I have tried drinking Green tea and I'm really not a fan so I find taking it as part of a daily heart health supplement is a whole lot easier. You can find out more about the benefits of green tea extract here.
3 - Cutting down on salt
Cutting down on salt has been the trickiest of all - why does it have to be so tasty! Vegetables just don't taste the same without it. It's for my own good though as salt makes your body hold onto water which in turn increases blood pressure. I've found that adding herbs to your food rather than salt really does make a difference.
4 - Exercising regularly
Inactivity is one of the major causes of heart disease and I have definitely made more of a conscious effort to get up and move more. I walk a whole lot more than I used to (including a daily lunchtime walk) and once the kids are back to school after summer I will be re-joining the gym. Any sort of exercise benefits your heart, even if it is just a short walk.
5 - Reducing stress levels
Although there is no direct link between stress and heart disease, stress certainly can contribute to your risk level and lead to risky behaviour such as over-eating, drinking too much and smoking. I am sure we all suffer from stress from time to time and I have found the best ways to cope with it are to go outside for a walk and get some fresh air and listen to meditation music for 30 minutes every evening. I honestly feel a lot less stressed by just making these two small changes. I recommend subscribing to Yellow Brick Cinema on Youtube where you'll find lots of relaxing music to choose from.
I hope you have found the top 5 ways I look after my heart useful. Please follow Life As Mrs R on Instagram and Facebook where I will be posting similar tips and articles in the coming months.
This article is not intended to be used as medical advice - I am not an expert. This is just what has been working for me. Obviously, consult your doctor before making any lifestyle changes.
This is a collaborative post. All thoughts are my own.