World Heart Day is celebrated every year on September 29th. Created by the World Heart Federation, the aim of World Heart Day is to inform people around the globe about the dangers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the ways risk of CVD can be reduced.
What is CVD?
The term cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessel. More people die from CVDs worldwide than from any other cause – over 17.9 million deaths occur every year, according to the World Health Organisation.
- Your heart is approximately the size of your first
- Your heart started beating approximately 3 weeks after you were conceived
- If you live to be 70 years old, you will have experienced approximately 25 million heart beats
What can I do to lower my risk of CVD?
Your heart, although impressive and strong, can become vulnerable from habitual risk factors like smoking, eating an unhealthy diet or being stressed. Controlling these risk factors and monitoring your blood pressure may reduce your risk of CVD.
Eat well and drink wisely:
- Cut down on sugary beverages (including fruit juice) – choose water or unsweetened juices instead
- Swap sweet, sugary treats for fresh fruit
- Aim to consume 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
- Keep alcohol consumption within the recommended guidelines
- Limit consumption of processed and pre-packaged foods as they are often high in salt, sugar and fat
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity 5 times a week OR 75 minutes throughout the week of vigorous physical activity
- Playing, walking, housework and dancing can all count as moderate intensity activity
- Aim for a little bit more activity every day – you can do this by taking the stairs, parking further away from your destination and walking, or walking/cycling instead of driving
- Stay fit at home – there are plenty of virtual exercise classes and online resources you can access
Say no to smoking:
- By quitting smoking (or not starting in the first place) you’ll not only improve your health but that of those around you as well as exposure to second-hand smoke can affect the heart health of non-smokers
- Within two years of quitting, the risk of CVD is substantially reduced
- Within fifteen years of quitting, the risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker