Man eating for heart health

We all know the basics of being healthy, including exercising and eating well. But do you know how to look after your heart?

Heart conditions can cause several signs and symptoms, here’s what you should know about them and how to stay healthy.

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), 11 per cent of men in the UK have been diagnosed with a form of heart and circulatory disease.

This includes coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

You may already know one of the signs of a problem, namely chest pain. But would you know the difference between chest pain associated with a heart attack and the chest pain of angina?

Professor David Newby, a cardiology expert from the BHF centre at the University of Edinburgh, says if you have chest pain and you feel extremely unwell, you should call for an ambulance as soon as possible. Speaking in the charity’s magazine, he says the type of chest pain associated with a heart attack is often described as a heaviness, tightness or pressure in the chest.

But if you get chest pain when you’re exercising or exerting yourself that goes away when you stop, it’s more likely to be angina. In this case you shouldn’t need to call 999 but you should see your GP as soon as you can. However chest pain isn’t the only symptom of heart disease, the professor adds.

Here are some of the other signs to look out for:

Feeling sick

When combined with intense chest pain, this may be a sign . If you’re getting discomfort rather than intense pain, call NHS 111 for advice.

Sweating

Feeling hot and clammy while having chest pains is another sign you should call for an ambulance (but don’t worry if it’s the type of sweating you normally experience because you’ve been exercising or when the weather is hot).

Stomach pain

The pain of indigestion or heartburn can be difficult to distinguish from that of heart pain. If in doubt, call NHS 111 for advice.

Arm pain

Pain that goes down the arm – particularly the left arm – or into the neck could be a sign. If the pain persists or worsens, call for an ambulance.

Jaw or back pain

Some people have symptoms other than the classic chest pain, including pain in the jaw or in the back.

Feeling tired all the time

Fatigue can used by many different things,including pushing yourself too hard. But it can be a symptom of heart failure too. Speak to your GP if tiredness is becoming a regular problem and you haven’t been over doing it lately.

Irregular heartbeat

Having the odd irregular heartbeat is common and usually harmless, says Professor Newby. But if your heart is beating very quickly and erratically, see your GP urgently (or call for an ambulance if you’re also having blackouts), as it could be a sign of atrial fibrillation, a condition that can increase your risk of stroke.

How to Have a Healthy Heart

There are some simple changes to your lifestyle that can help you. This include:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet that’s low in saturated fat
  • Be physically active (aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week)
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you smoke, it’s best to give up
  • If you drink, try to drink in moderation (limit yourself to 14 units a week)
  • Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels under control

For advice on how to quit smoking, here’s our top five tips.

For more advice on and support, come in store and speak to a member of our healthcare team. Find your local LloydsPharmacy here.

Not sure how to start exercising? Here’s our fun ways to get fit.