National Heart Month
25th February 2010
While we should all regularly think about our health and wellbeing, February is especially appropriate because it is National Heart Month – a time when we can refresh our understanding of heart disease and what we can do to prevent it.
Shockingly, every year heart and circulatory diseases account for more than a third of all deaths in the UK, with poor diet and lack of exercise being a major contributing factor. According to British Heart Foundation (BHF) research, 67 per cent of adults in the South West say they do not do the recommended minimum of 30 minutes’ physical activity per day, with 38 per cent saying they are too busy to exercise.
Here at Spire Bristol Hospital we are a National Centre of Excellence for cardiology and cardiac surgery and perform more than 200 cardiac surgery cases per year.
We are the only private facility to offer high quality, complex cardiac surgery and associated cardiology in the South West.
And I’m delighted to say we are also the UK's first 'Choose and Book' cardiac facility, giving patients access to our facilities for cardiac surgical procedures including heart by-passes, valve replacements and cardioversion (restoring normal heart rhythm).
We are also one of the few hospitals in the UK to provide a form of treatment for heart failure and angina which does not require either surgery or drug therapy. It’s completely non-invasive (external) called EECP (Enhanced External Counter Pulsation) and involves a number of sessions during which blood pressure cuffs are placed around the legs and inflate and deflate in time with the heart beat. The aim of the treatment is to increase the efficiency of the heart muscle.
But prevention is always better than cure, so what are cardiovascular risk factors and how can we reduce them?
Cholesterol: For every 1 percent decrease in your cholesterol level, you lower you risk of death from heart disease by 1 percent. Exercise and a healthy diet can help lower cholesterol levels.
Blood pressure: High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. One major contributor to high blood pressure is salt intake. Try cutting back on the salt you eat. Cook with it, but don’t put it on the table. Daily exercise and weight loss will also decrease your blood pressure.
Smoking: Smoking increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Talk with your doctor, who can refer you to several programs designed to help smokers stop smoking.
Physical activity: Regular physical activity does more to improve your overall health than any pill your doctor can give you. It’s good for your heart and circulation. Try to find 30 minutes each day that you can dedicate to some form of physical activity.
Obesity and diabetes: As we get older, and we add a few extra pounds, we are all at greater risk of developing diabetes, which increases cardiovascular risk. A healthy diet and daily exercise will help lower your weight and blood sugar.