Heart Health

Good health starts with your heart. Making some simple changes to your lifestyle to maintain your heart health can be the difference between life and death.

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Steps to a healthy heart

While there are some factors you can’t control in maintaining a healthy heart, there are lots you can. Use this action plan for heart health to take steps today to prevent heart disease.

  • Read our guide to heart health

    Understanding the risk factors for heart disease is your first step to preventing it.

    If you haven’t already, read our guide to heart health.

  • Book a blood pressure test

    If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, book an appointment with your GP.

    The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked. Blood Pressure UK recommends everyone gets theirs checked at least once every five years. And when you hit 40, you should get it checked more often, every year if you can. 

  • Check your BMI

    Find out your body mass index (BMI).

    Your BMI is a measurement of your body fat based on your height and weight. Medical professionals use this measure to assess how at risk you are of heart disease and other health issues.
     
    If your BMI is 25 or above (23 or above if you’re of South Asian, African-Caribbean, Chinese or Middle Eastern descent), you may have an increased risk of developing heart disease. 

    Ask your GP to check your BMI, or use this NHS healthy weight calculator.

  • Quit smoking

    Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health, according to the British Heart Foundation.

    Aside from lowering your risk, you’ll feel better and have more cash to spend on things you enjoy. Thinking of quitting? Now’s the time.

    If you need support talk to your pharmacist, your GP, or call the Smokefree National Helpline.

  • Start doing more exercise

    Start getting more active every day.
     
    Your heart is a muscle, and it needs exercise to stay strong. Doing more exercise will help your heart stay strong and will lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. And, because exercise uses up adrenalin and other hormones we produce when we’re stressed, it can improve your mood and help you sleep better too. Just sitting a little less will help you burn sugar instead of storing it as fat. Make a plan to play a sport, dance more, leave the car at home or take a walk. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you get moving.
     
    For ideas on working more exercise into your day, check out One You from the NHS.
  • Learn to cope with stress

    Learn how to better cope with stress in your daily life.

    Being stressed isn’t a direct risk factor for heart disease, but if you don't cope with it well, it can put you more at risk. If you’re smoking, drinking too much or overeating to cope with feeling stressed out, you’re putting yourself at risk. You can’t always change the root cause of your stress, but you can change how you respond to it. And you can build your ability to bounce back from challenges.

    Read our guide on stress to find out how. 

  • Cut down on alcohol

    Cut down on your intake of alcohol.

    If you’re drinking more than 14 units a week (about six pints of beer or medium glasses of wine) you could be putting yourself at risk. Drinking less reduces your risk of heart disease, but you’ll experience lots of other benefits, too. Save money, avoid energy-sapping hangovers, and enjoy a better night’s sleep just by cutting back. 

    If you need a little help, get some tips on how to do this
  • Get a better night's sleep

    If you're not sleeping well, learn good habits for more restful sleep.

    Sleep may seem like the least productive part of your day. But the opposite is true. Getting the right amount of sleep helps your mind and body rejuvenate, and can lower your risk of developing heart disease. It also helps you think more clearly, have more energy, and feel better about life.

    Find out how to get a better night's sleep.

  • Ask for support from your employer

    Check your intranet, or talk to HR about how they can help you make healthy changes to your lifestyle. 

    Lots of employers want to promote healthier habits at work. If you’re working, see if you can access programmes for keeping healthy. Some organisations offer reduced-price gym membership, discounted wearable fitness trackers, or health apps. There might even be a lunchtime walking club you could join.

  • Change your diet

    Make healthy changes to what and how much you eat.

    What you eat affects your heart, even if you're a healthy weight. Make some healthy swaps to what you eat, learn how to read food labels, and get into the habit of packing a healthy lunch. What'll make the biggest difference is making realistic changes you can stick to for the rest of your life. 

    For more tips on changing your diet for good, click here

Next steps

Add the actions you want to take to your personalised to-do list, then you can start working on being kinder to your heart. Small changes add up to a big difference.