According to the World Heart Federation, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death on the planet.
On the 29th September, the world acknowledges World Heart Day (WHD). The annual campaign aims to promote awareness of the health risks of heart disease (commonly known as cardiovascular disease) as well as proactive prevention methods.
This year, the World Heart Foundation are asking the world to #UseHeart to beat cardiovascular disease.
The effects of cardiovascular disease
In the UK, heart and circulatory diseases cause an average of 460 deaths each day, or one every three minutes. While in Ireland, CVD accounts for 36% of all deaths each year.
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella name for conditions that affect your heart or circulation, narrow or block your blood vessels. These conditions can lead to angina, strokes, and heart attacks.
Depending on the heart condition, symptoms can vary. However, common signs of cardiovascular disease include chest pain, fatigue, swollen limbs, breathlessness, and numb legs and/or arms.
Taking care of your heart
There are some heart disease risk factors that you cannot change, for example, your age, race, ethnicity and family history. However, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heart disease. These include:
- Control blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is recommended that adults check their blood pressure once a year, or more if you have high blood pressure. Click here for tips on reducing your blood pressure.
- Stress management: Increased stress can contribute to high blood pressure thus becoming a trigger for a heart attack. This can often lead towards unhealthy coping tendencies, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking, all of which are bad for your heart.
- Eat well: Incorporate a mix of at least five fruit and veg options into your daily food intake and try to limit saturated fats, as well as foods high in sodium and added sugars.
- Keep active: Physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, strengthens your heart, and improves blood circulation. All these benefits help reduce your chance of developing heart disease.
- Lower cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of heart attacks. Simple lifestyle changes such as the ones featured in this guidance can help you lower your cholesterol levels. In some cases, medication may be prescribed.
The link between CVD and COVID-19
According to the latest reports, those living with heart conditions have been linked to an increased risk of "poor outcomes from COVID-19".
At the time of writing, those taking medication for a heart condition are being advised by the World Heart Federation to secure a one-month supply of medication or longer if possible. Adhering to the latest government guidelines is also essential.
How do I get involved?
- Be the example: World Heart Day encourages us all to understand what it takes to live a heart healthy life. Look for ways to make simple adjustments to improve your heart health and set an example for your friends, colleagues and loved ones to follow.
- Social media: The World Heart Federation have various digital resources to share via social media, including factsheets, infographics, and banners. Visit the campaigns’ online resource centre here.
If you need to access our services to discuss any wellbeing concerns you may have, our confidential helpline is available 24/7, 365.
Alternatively, you can access the My Healthy Advantage app (iOS & Android) to view a variety of wellbeing resources including articles, videos, mini health checks and 4-week programmes, all aimed at improving your physical and mental wellbeing.