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Your Health & Fitness | A Healthy Heart


but particularly to heart health. Rates of cardiovascular disease are much higher in smokers, and your risk level will, on average, drop to half of that of a smoker within one year of giving up. Drinking alcohol in moderation will also reduce atheroma deposits in the arteries, as well as contributing to overall health.


Salt Danger High sodium levels are directly linked


to high blood pressure, a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Unfortunately, most of us consume too much salt, and although it’s easy to reduce our intake at home, we also need to be vigilant about checking nutrition labels on processed foods. As a guideline, if a product contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g, it is considered to have a high sodium content and should only be eaten in moderation.


Relax This may be easier said than done,


but high stress levels are known to contribute to high blood pressure which is detrimental to your heart. If you feel that you are under a lot


of stress, taking time to relax will be benefi cial not only for your mental wellbeing but also for your heart. How you choose to combat stress is a personal choice, but for many people a walk outdoors, exercise and meditation are effective ways of lowering stress levels.


Know Your Risk for Heart Disease


Although heart disease affects both men and women, men tend to develop the condition at an earlier age, which means they need to be particularly careful. Diabetes, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure all increase your risk, and if you know that one of these applies to you, it is best to seek advice from your GP. They might offer you medication such as statins or a daily aspirin to lower your risk of a heart attack. Even if you already suffer from angina, making lifestyle changes and taking the correct medication can allow you to live an ordinary and healthy life.


As the most commonly prescribed medication in the UK, statins work to lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood—called low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—reducing the chance of fatty deposits in the arteries and lowering your risk of heart disease.


STATINS However, recently there has been


controversy surrounding the fact that many people, who are essentially healthy, are prescribed statins as a precautionary measure if their risk of heart disease is considered to be above 20 percent. Some doctors have criticised the readiness of GPs to prescribe statins to healthy patients instead of encouraging lifestyle changes, arguing that common side eff ects of the drug (including muscle pain and an increased risk of diabetes) may cause more harm than good. On the whole, statins have proven to be very successful in lowering the risk of heart disease, but if you’re concerned about their side eff ects or whether you should be taking them, your GP will be able to advise you.


Nourish Your Heart


Betavivo is the Swedish crispy oat heart cereal clinically proven to reduce cholesterol. Each single-serving sachet contains the daily amount of beta-glucan needed for positive health eff ects. Served with fresh fruit and yoghurt, it’s also a delicious start to the day and will keep you feeling full for hours. Find Betavivo at Lloyds Pharmacy, Holland & Barrett and leading


independent pharmacies.


celebrityangels.co.uk DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR CHRIS STEELE 39


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