Heart Health Month

This February as part of Heart Health Month WELL are focusing on heart health and ways to reduce the risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). CHD is the most common type of heart and circulatory disease. It occurs when coronary arteries become narrowed by a build-up of atheroma, a fatty material within their walls. CHD is one of Northern Ireland’s leading causes of death.

You can help lower your risk of developing CHD by making healthy changes to your lifestyle that will benefit your mental, physical and heart health:

Maintain a healthy weight

Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.

Eat a healthy balanced diet

  • A low-fat, high fibre diet is recommended. Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.
  • Eat no more than 6g salt a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure. 6g of salt is about one teaspoonful.
  • Avoid too much sugar, as this can increase your chances of developing diabetes, which is proven to dramatically increase your chances of developing CHD.
  • There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Avoid food containing saturated fats, because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood. However, a balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries.

 Be more physically active

Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. People who don't exercise are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who exercise regularly. The heart is a muscle and, like any other muscle, benefits from exercise. Any aerobic exercise, such as walkingswimming and dancing, makes your heart work harder and keeps it healthy.

Reduce your alcohol consumption

If you drink, don't exceed the maximum recommended limits.

  • Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week
  • Always avoid binge drinking.

Give up smoking

If you smoke, giving up will reduce your risk of developing CHD. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). It also causes the majority of cases of coronary thrombosis in people under the age of 50.


For more information on leading a healthy lifestyle click here, and keep an eye on the WELL website for upcoming health and wellbeing seminars.