Cardiovascular disease is the world's most lethal killer. The disease claims more than 17 million lives per year around the globe and the main issues for people with heart conditions include heart disease, strokes and raised blood pressure.
This is why on World Heart Day (the 29th September every year) the World Health Organization arranges awareness events around 100 countries, including organised walks and runs, public talks and presentations around the topic of heart health.
With the British Heart Foundation stating that "every 8 minutes someone in the UK dies from coronary heart disease", what can we do to help keep our hearts healthy?
As they say, prevention is the best cure and there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to help your heart.
Keeping active doesn't mean that you have to run the length of your city or overly exert yourself. By simply opting to walk to the shops rather than take the car regularly will help to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Of course, as well as exercising regularly, there are important dietary points to remember.
By adopting a high fibre, low fat and sugar diet, including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, will help look after your heart. Also, limiting the amount of salt that you eat (no more than 6 grams per day) will ensure that your blood pressure doesn't get too high and cause heart problems.
Eating the right food is extremely important and knowing which types of fat you are eating can help.
There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Some examples of foods high in saturated fats are:
Saturated fats increase the levels of cholesterol in the body and should be avoided or consumed in moderation. Unsaturated fats should be included as part of a balanced diet and high levels are found in:
There are a number of other harmful factors other than fats in your diet which you should steer clear from.
With it being estimated that 20,000 deaths in the UK are caused by heart and circulatory diseases linked to smoking, lighting up each day is significantly putting your heart at risk. In fact the NHS say: “smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack".
Use our Smoking Lung tool to see the effects of smoking on your lungs.
There isn’t a quick fix for solving the worldwide issue of obesity in children and adults. Programmes that encourage weight loss are helpful but often take time and require commitment.
Making simple lifestyle changes, monitoring weight regularly and setting realistic goals which involve the whole family can help you and your family to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Your heart isn't something to take for granted. Your lifestyle choices can affect it's workings and knowing what we should and shouldn't be doing will help keep it ticking for a lot longer.