1. Health protectors
2. Nine ways to prevent heart diseases
3. Emergency Actions if heart attack...
[Time to read: 8 mins]
1. Health protectors
1.1 Total cholesterol level less than or equal to 5 mmol /L. Half of all adults in England have too high cholesterol . Reducing LDL cholesterol by 1 mmol /L for 5 years lowers your risks of heart diseases & strokes by 1 in 4 (25%) [Lancet, Dec. 2017].
1.2. Blood pressure less than 130/80 mm Hg. 7 million UK people are unaware they have high blood pressure [BHF, 2020]. Yet it affects 1 in every 4 adults, and can lead to heart diseases, strokes, dementia  and kidney diseases .
1.3. Do not get diabetes; how to prevent diabetes if at risk.
1.4. If you smoke, STOP Use a free NHS local stop smoking service. Public Health England guidance. Smoking one cigarette a day has a risk of heart disease and stroke, half that for people who smoke 20 a day. Means no safe level of smoking ! So quit instead of cutting down . Within 4-5 years of quitting smoking, stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker [WHO].
2. Nine ways to prevent heart diseases and live 8 to 9 years longer …
Step 1. First check your personal risk of getting heart disease. Use NHS heart age calculator – takes 3 minutes, decide on your actions to improve your heart health here.
Step 2. Get poor heart health warnings from your own body – watch out for these:
- Aching legs, often in your calves, brought on by walking and stopping when you rest – tell your doctor now, today!
- Chest pain, tightness or ‘crushing’ in the centre of your chest, or vomiting sick – dial 999.
- Unusual headache, weakness of one side of your face, slurred speech, or confusion, unable to lift both arms together – ‘FAST‘ could be minor stroke – dial 999.
Step 3. To keep your heart healthy, plan your exercise & diet. Are you a healthy weight? The UK NHS weight chart will tell you. Being overweight is a big risk . Sticking to a healthy lifestyle at mid-life (not smoking, not overweight, regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake and a good diet) means you will live 8 to 9 years longer free of major long term diseases [BMJ 2020;368:l6669].
Step 5. Keep your blood pressure down – here are 5 steps you can take.
Step 7. Watch videos? Got 2 minutes? Watch your own heart attack, a video by British Heart Foundation. If a woman, watch Elizabeth have ‘Just a little Heart Attack‘.
Step 8. Here are 12 extra ways to cut your blood pressure without drugs. Small changes can improve your health [10, 25].
Step 9. Actions? Have you agreed a personal, written, healthcare plan to reduce your heart risks with your doctor ? If not, start to draft your own health plan and take to discuss with your GP. Keep on adding to it, e.g. as the high blood pressure guideline changed in Nov. 2017! .
3. Actions if heart emergency near you. Think and act FAST:
3.1 If you think someone near you could have had a heart attack, get help immediately. St John Ambulance say, if you see any of these heart attack warning signs, Call 999. And give the person a 300 mg aspirin to thin the blood, if the person is feeling:
- Chest discomfort, pain, or discomfort in other areas of the upper body,
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, wanting to be sick or feeling light in the head. Call 999.
3.2 If a person does not respond and is not breathing, this means the heart has stopped. First check that you and the person are not in any danger. If you are, make the situation safe. When it’s safe to do so, assess the person and dial 999 for an ambulance. Now do CPR (which is short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation). As St John Ambulance says, and includes video on how to do Adult CPR, “CPR involves giving someone a combination of 30 chest compressions then 2 rescue breaths, and repeat to keep their heart and circulation going, to save their life”.
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