Seven ways … lower your heart’s age

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Calculate your heart’s age
You may look young, but your heart disappoints you? Heart age is a concept that captures the risk of a heart attack or stroke. There are factors that you can not change or control: getting older, being men (women do not catch up until age 55) and having a family history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Well there are some factors within your control: smoking, exercise, diet and alcohol. There are also hidden factors that do not cause symptoms but increase the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar (diabetes). You can use a simple online tool to calculate your heart’s age, but it will be more accurate if you know your cholesterol level and blood pressure.

Get a health check
Every 40 to 74-year-old in the United Kingdom performs a medical examination every five years at a GP practice room, pharmacy or local library or mobile unit in a shopping mall in some areas. More than 75 years old can have an annual inspection. People under the age of 40 are usually at low risk, but if a close relative has a heart attack or stroke at a young age (male relatives under 55, women under 65), their GP should be seen. You can buy the DIY Cholesterol Assay Kit and measure your blood pressure at home, but you can talk to a health professional as well.

Quit smoking
At least one-third of all cardiovascular disease is due to five risk factors: cigarette, high blood pressure, alcohol, high cholesterol, and obesity – ranked by importance. Other factors are inactivity, poor diet, few fruits and vegetables. So it will be hard to start smoking cessation, yes – nicotine is more addictive than heroin – but if you value your health, this is the best thing to do. Nearly half of smokers in Britain try to stop each year, but only 2-3% are successful. It is best to take all the help you can get; the evidence is that if you get psychological support, nicotine replacement therapy and prescription drugs to reduce cravings, you’re more likely to succeed.

Let your blood pressure drop
The ideal blood pressure (BP) is between 90/60 and 120/80 and is always considered high if it is consistently above 140/90. This is a measure of heart pressure, the pressure of pumping blood out of the body when the heart is at rest. With age, blood pressure, increased fat, decreased activity, increased drinking, salt increased. You may have a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure, so even if you are slim, energetic, and eat a good diet, you may be advised to take medications to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range

Do enough exercise to stop you from speaking
Two and a half hours a week of moderate physical activity reduces CVD risk by one third. To count as a moderate activity, you need to feel warmer and more heart and breathing. Intense activity, such as fast running or intense intensity training, means you can not stop and take a breath. Any activity is better than no activity, and powerful activity may be better than a more leisurely exercise. Parkruns is free, 5,000 trips a week in 490 parks in the UK. There is no harm in nurturing and joining these fun community activities.

Get good cholesterol, bad drop
Cholesterol is a fat found in food (such as meat and dairy products) and made in the liver. Total cholesterol circulating in the blood consists of artery-blocked low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Ideally, total cholesterol should be less than 5 mmol / l and low density lipoprotein less than 3 mmol / l. But to explain your cholesterol level, you need to consider any other risk factor to get the overall risk score. If it is high, you will be advised to exercise more and eat a low cholesterol diet. If this does not work, you may be offered drugs such as statins.

Do not pay too much attention to age, this is just a guide
My heart was obviously eight years older than my actual age. I checked all the right boxes, but my father had a heart attack at a young age. Although his lifestyle is very different from mine, he smokes and never does any exercise. So, while recommendations for your favorite age test site are generally good, do not worry too much about numbers; they are risk scores and do not necessarily predict what will happen to you. At least I hope not.

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