Prevent heart diseases, live 8 years longer

1. Health protectors

2. Nine ways to prevent heart diseases

3. Emergency Actions if heart attack..

[Time to read: 8 mins]

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human heart

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 [33].  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. It can lead you to heart diseases, strokes, dementia [42] and kidney diseases [32].

1.3. Do not get diabetes; here is how to prevent diabetes if at risk.

1.4. If you smoke,  STOP Use a free NHS local stop smoking servicePublic 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 for you! So quit instead of cutting down [45]. Within 4-5 years of quitting smoking, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker [WHO].

 2.  pointing fingerNine 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.  Understand 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 – please tell your doctor now, today! Because there are solutions below…
  • 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 – act FAST could be minor stroke – dial 999.

If you get any early warnings like these, encourage your GP to refer you to hospital for a CT scan – only takes about 20 minutes. Now machine learning (AI) is helping the NHS to identify patients most likely to have a heart attack. How? Heart specialists can use the new ‘CaRi-Heart‘ tool, developed by Oxford researchers funded by the BHF, to work with the CT scan. This tool can help the CT scan to identify people at high risk of a fatal heart attack, years before it strikes.

This means doctors and you together have plenty of time to lower heart risk by using magic medications such as statins and/or a daily mini aspirin. Users are also encouraged to make lifestyle changes to minimise the danger. So, this is a 2021 breakthrough on prevention!

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 [11].  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 4. Don’t smoke – use free NHS local stop smoking service. Enter in your own health plan.

Step 5. Keep your blood pressure down – here are 5 steps you can take.

Step 6. If you have diabetes, better blood sugars control reduces your risks [4].   4 people out of every 5 with diabetes die from heart diseases and strokes [18].

heart attack
person having heart attack

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‘. 

Look at NHS Q&As on preventing heart diseases and preventing strokes. + other answers to heart diseases questions.

Step 8. Here are 12 extra ways to cut your blood pressure without drugs. Small changes can improve your health [10, 25].

pointing finger2

Step 9. Actions? Have you agreed a personal, written, healthcare plan to reduce your heart risks with your doctor [11]? 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! [35].

3. Actions if heart emergency near you. Think and act FAST:

emergency 2

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 signsCall 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.
Giving CPR
Giving chest hard presses

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”.

page updated 12 June 2021.  © 2021 social enterprise™ Ltd.

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