Heart disease happens when the blood supply to the heart is blocked by a build-up of cholesterol on the walls of the arteries around the heart. If one of the deposits of cholesterol bursts, it can cause a blood clot to develop, which blocks blood flow to the heart and triggers a heart attack. While there is no way to completely prevent yourself from developing heart disease, it is possible to lower your risk. This can be done by making some simple lifestyle changes and doing some tests to assess if you are at risk.
Many of these tests can now be done at home to save people from having to go to a GP or nurse, with the results analysed by registered healthcare experts through simple, easy to use apps
Dr Antony Malloy – Scout Health
According to Dr Antony Malloy at medical health app Scout Health, the main risk factors for development of heart disease are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and family history.
Apart from family history, the other risk factors are within our control and can be monitored and tracked over time via simple tests, Dr Malloy told Express.co.uk.
Cholesterol and diabetes can both be screened and tracked through a simple blood test, which you can have done at your GP surgery. But you can also test for these at home via certain health apps, with results analysed by registered healthcare experts.
Blood pressure, meanwhile, can be watched by using a blood pressure monitor, which you can use at your GP surgery or purchase for use at home. You can also check your blood pressure via certain health apps, eliminating the need to visit your doctor.
“We suggest these markers be checked on at least an annual basis so early problems can be detected and prevention strategies put in place to reduce the longer-term risk,” said Dr Malloy.
“It may be appropriate for these checks to be done more regularly for some higher risk individuals.”
“Many of these tests can now be done at home to save people from having to go to a GP or nurse, with the results analysed by registered healthcare experts through simple, easy to use apps.
“This not only enables people to take control of their own health, but also reduces the burden on GPs and the NHS.”
Dr Malloy lists three main lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing heart disease:
Improve your diet
There is “very good evidence” to suggest that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and other low glycaemic index (GI) carb sources, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes and unsaturated fats will reduce the risk of heart disease.
Fruit and vegetables contain an array of helpful vitamins and antioxidants and when combined, have a positive impact on the heart.
Wholegrain products, and other low GI carbohydrates, help to keep the body fuelled with a steady stream of sugar, which helps to avoid the damaging spikes in sugar that increase inflammation in the body, the risk of diabetes and the risk of heart disease.
Legumes, equally, are a “wonderful” source of low GI energy, as well as a great source of plant-based protein for cell repair.
Nuts and seeds contain lots of healthier fats and help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
Saturated and trans fats are bad for heart health and should be avoided where possible.
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Get more exercise
A regular exercise routine has the ability to reduce blood pressure, the risk of diabetes and overall inflammation in the body. All of these, in turn, reduce the risk of heart disease.
Most experts suggest aiming for 150 minutes of moderate activity a week.
Try to stress less
Chronic stress can lead to a more inflammatory state in the body, which is known to also increase heart disease risk over time.
“I think meditation is a tool that so many people could benefit from in 21st century society,” said Dr Malloy.
“This ancient practice has never been more relevant and there are so many resources such as apps, websites and books available now to allow people to delve in to it.
“Try 10 minutes every day and see if you can add it to your daily routine. Your heart, as well as the rest of your mind and body, will thank you for it.”
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