Our Pharmacist Mark Sajda gives some advice on how to keep your heart healthy.
We all know that the 14th February is Valentine’s Day and many of us will send Valentines cards with love hearts, but how many of us look after our own hearts?
Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of death in Ireland for both men and women. However, for many people heart disease and stroke can be delayed or even prevented. Healthy eating, being physically active and not smoking all help to reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease.
There are a number of other steps you can take top try and improve your heart health.
It is important that you have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis as high blood pressure, or hypertension, usually has no symptoms. All Sam McCauley Chemists offer free blood pressure checks. No appointment is usually necessary and it is a simple check which could save your life.
High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 adults and it can cause gradual damage to the blood vessels and heart. Often there are no obvious symptoms and if untreated this damage progresses over time and may result in stroke, heart attack or kidney damage. Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of the risks and know how you can reduce them.
Manage Your Cholesterol:
Cholesterol is a vital hormone in the body and the human body is very efficient at producing the cholesterol that it needs. Excess cholesterol generally comes from eating foods high in saturated fat and this excess can cause fatty build up on the inner walls of arteries, restricting the flow of blood to the heart.
One of the best ways to prevent heart disease and stroke is to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. There are several risk factors which can increase the likelihood of developing high cholesterol. These can be divided into uncontrollable risk factors e.g. age, gender and family history, and secondly, controllable risk factors such as diet, weight and physical exercise.
You can help reduce these controllable risk factors by getting 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily, and by having a balanced diet which is low in saturated fat e.g. reducing your red meat consumption and substituting whole milk for low fat milk.
All of our Sam McCauley pharmacists can advise on the foods to avoid to help maintain a healthy cholesterol level – just ask! In addition to managing your diet it may be beneficial to take a food supplement such as Zerochol. This supplement contains plant sterols, and is proven to lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
It is vitally important that if you are prescribed medication for high blood pressure or high cholesterol that you take your tablets. Tablets that lower blood pressure prevent early ageing of the blood vessels and the heart, and reduce your risk of stroke. Generally there are few side effects with these medicines. However if a particular tablet doesn’t suit you, then it is important that you speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Don’t suffer in silence or even worse stop taking your prescribed medication.