We’re all aware of the importance of taking good care of our heart health, but it can be difficult to know how. Whilst cardiovascular disease is one of the UK’s biggest killers, most cases are preventable which means we should all take action now to ensure we keep our hearts healthy in the future.

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Here are 10 things you can do to keep your heart – and your health – in the best of shape:

1

Eat less salt

A diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of developing heart disease or a stroke. The maximum adult daily intake is no more than 6g of salt (2.5g of salt is the equivalent of 1g of sodium). Aim for foods that contain less than 1.5g salt or 0.6g sodium per 100g whenever possible.

2

Cut back on sugar

There’s no evidence that sugar itself damages the heart, but eating too much can lead to weight gain, which in turn can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

3

Keep saturated fat to a minimum  

Medical experts believe saturated fat – which is found in butter, ghee, margarine, fatty meats, dairy fats and processed foods such as pies, pastries and cakes – may increase cholesterol levels (high cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart problems).

4

Get your five a day

Boost your intake of the mineral potassium by eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day (potassium may help lower your blood pressure). The nutrients in fruit and veg – such as vitamins, minerals and fibre – may also help keep your heart healthy and lower your cholesterol.

5

Eat more fish

Oily fish – such as pilchards, sardines, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna – are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to improve your cholesterol levels. Vegetarians and vegans can get omega-3 fats from spinach, wheat germ, walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, soya and canola oil and pumpkin seeds.

6

Give up smoking

Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who have never smoked, thanks to the way smoking damages your arteries, reduces your blood oxygen levels and raises your blood pressure. Ask your local LloydsPharmacy pharmacist for help with stopping smoking today.

7

Drink less alcohol

Too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and heart muscle damage. Stick to the current guideline for moderate alcohol drinking, which is 14 weekly units of alcohol spread evenly over at least three days (use the Drinkaware alcohol unit calculator).

8

Stay active

Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Split the 150 minutes up any way you like (five 30-minute sessions, or divide the 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions).

9

Keep your weight healthy

If you’re overweight, your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol is higher than normal. If you need help with shedding the pounds, ask your LloydsPharmacy team about products that can boost your weight loss – or shop online.

10

Tackle stress

Being under too much pressure can make you smoke, take little to nor exercise and drink more alcohol than you should. Try to find ways to de-stress on a regular basis (whatever helps make you feel calm will work, as long as you do it regularly).

Our pharmacists have lots of advice about how to keep your heart healthy, so come in and speak to us to see how we can help.