Prevent heart diseases – 9 steps for you to live 6 to 9 years longer

  1. Health protectors
  2. Nine steps for you to prevent heart diseases
  3. Emergency Actions, if heart attack..

[Time to read: 8 mins]

1. Health protectors

human heart

Make lifestyle changes and follow these “Health protectors” to help you prevent heart diseases and strokes [1]:

  1. Total cholesterol level less than or equal to 5 mmol /Lhalf 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].
  2. Blood pressure less than 130/80 mm Hg.  7 million UK people are unaware they have high blood pressure [BHF, 2018]. Yet it affects 1 in every 4 adults, and can lead to heart diseases, strokes, dementia [42] and kidney diseases [32].
  3. No diabetes; how to prevent diabetes if at risk.
  4. If you smoke,  Stop signUse a free NHS local stop smoking service. Stop smoking options: Public Health England guidance, August 2018. Smoking one cigarette per day carries a risk of heart disease and stroke much greater than expected: around half that for people who smoke 20 per day. No safe level of smoking exists for heart and stroke diseases. So quit instead of cutting down [45]. Within four to five years of quitting smoking, stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker [WHO].

If you have all of these 4 health protectors, 20 years of medical research shows:

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 You’ll live 6 to 9 years longer, and enjoy a more healthy life [25, 33].

2.  Nine steps for you to prevent heart diseases and live 6-9 years longer …

Step 1.  First check your personal risk of getting heart disease. Use NHS heart age calculator – takes 3 minutes, and advises how to reduce your heart age.

Step 2.  To keep your heart healthy, plan your exercise & diet. Are you a healthy weight? The NHS weight chart will tell you. Being overweight is a big risk [11].

Step 3. Don’t smoke – use free NHS local stop smoking service. Enter in your own health plan.

Step 4. Keep your blood pressure down – here are 5 steps you can take.

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

heart attack

Step 6. 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 7.  Look at NHS Q&As on preventing heart diseases and preventing strokes. + other answers to good 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, health management 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

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”.

Medical disclaimer 

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page updated 30 Oct. 2019.  © 2019 social enterprise Diabetes-cutmyrisks.co.uk.™ Ltd.

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