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Simple lifestyle changes could lead to better heart health

July 26th 2011

Dr Anthony Annan highlights the benefits of a new cardiovascular risk assessment service in the fight against the UK’s biggest killer.

According to the latest NHS figures, coronary heart disease is still classed as the UK’s biggest killer and affects the lives of more than 5 million people in England.

To help fight the disease, UK guidelines recommend that people aged 40 or over should have a routine cardiovascular risk assessment, involving a quick lifestyle questionnaire, a blood pressure check and simple finger pin prick blood test. However there are plenty of ways everyone, regardless of their age, can protect their heart.

There are nine main risk factors for heart disease: smoking, poor diet, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, being overweight or obese, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption and stress. Most of these risks can be prevented with small lifestyle changes.

One easy way to reduce your risk of getting heart disease is to make small improvements to your diet. A low-fat, high-fibre diet that includes whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and limited salt is recommended for a healthy heart.  Avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat will help to keep your cholesterol level in check and, if you drink alcohol, do not exceed the recommended daily limits of three to four units a day for men and two to three units a day for women.

Making changes to your diet can also aid with weight loss, or help you to maintain a healthy weight, when combined with regular exercise. Try walking to the shops instead of driving or taking the children to the park and joining in with their football game.

If you smoke, another key lifestyle change is to stop smoking as soon as possible. The practice can give you support and advice to help.

We have launched a new Vascular Risk Assessment Health Check service for patients in the Dagenham area aged 40 and over. The simple test which includes a pin prick blood test takes just 20 minutes and provides immediate results. For more information, call the Lead Nurse on 020 8596 4400.

For further help and advice on heart disease, the British Heart Foundation and the Heart UK websites provide information and advice on how to prevent or manage it. More information on healthy eating, exercise and how to quit smoking can be found on the NHS Choices website,

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