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Cardiac Health

A Healthy Heart

Preventing Heart Disease
Heart disease is a major cause of death for men and women in the United Kingdom. It can lead to a heart attack. One in four men, and one in six women die from the disease and approximately 300,000 people have a heart attack each year.

There are a number of risk factors associated with heart disease which you cannot change such as heredity, age, gender, race and also if you have already been diagnosed with the disease. However, by making lifestyle changes you can reduce your risk of developing related health problems.

Physical Inactivity
The majority of the UK population do not get enough exercise. An increase in physical activity is known to benefit your heart. Try to get at least 30minutes of vigorous activity everyday. For suggestions on keeping active click on the link:  
www.bhf.org.uk/keeping_your_heart_healthy/staying_active.aspx

Being Overweight
Research indicates that if your Body mass index (BMI) exceeds 27 your risk of developing heart disease increases. If your BMI exceeds 35, the risk doubles.

The Body mass index (BMI) is an index of weight for height.
The Ideal Body mass index ranges between 19 - 25 kg/m2  
 Find out if you are the ideal weight for your height check your body mass index at: www.weightconcern.com/

Unhealthy Diet
Poor diet can result in an increase in your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure levels which are all linked to heart disease. Your diet should be low in saturated fat, sugar and salt, and contain plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day). Eating a balanced diet can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Click on the link below for further advice on healthy eating:  
www.bhf.org.uk/keeping_your_heart_healthy/healthy_eating.aspx

Smoking
Smokers are 2–4 times more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease because some of the chemicals in cigarettes makes the heart work harder and the blood more likely to become sticky and clot. If you are a smoker and want to give up you are 4 times more likely to be successful if you get support. UCL provides support through the Employee Assistance Programme.

Stress
If you feel that you are under excessive pressure on a regular basis, this can increase your risk of heart disease because you may over-eat, drink too much alcohol or smoke more, as a way to help lessen the discomfort of feeling stressed. If you would like some advice on coping with stress in a positive way, you can contact the UCL 24 hour Employee Assistance Programme help line on 0800 243458 to discuss the issues involved, and if appropriate, you may be referred on to the UCL Staff Counselling Service.

Alcohol Intake
Moderate alcohol consumption (between 1 and 2 units of alcohol a day) can be beneficial to the heart in men over 40 and women and who have gone through the menopause. However, drinking more than this on a regular basis or frequent binge drinking can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and lead to weight gain.If you drink, make sure that you stick to the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption. You should always avoid binge drinking. If you take medication or have a history of ill-health you should consult your doctor before drinking alcohol.

For information and support with Problem drinking see:  
www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/newcomer/

Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing heart disease. If you have diabetes it is important that you:

It is also important to work with your healthcare provider to manage your Diabetes to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. For further advice visit: www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-complications/heart-disease.html

Assess your risk of heart disease
If you are over 40 you should talk to your GP or Practice Nurse about having an assessment to determine your risk of developing heart disease. This will involve measuring your weight, height, smoking history, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

For full details on heart disease visit The British Heart Foundation website:     
www.bhf.org.uk/keeping_your_heart_healthy/default.aspx

Further information on heart health awareness is also available at:
www.worldheart.org/

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