February’s blog – How to keep your heart healthy this February

Susannah RowlesDuring the month of February, many people think of hearts and chocolate. February is of course the month of Valentine’s Day. I consider myself fortunate that my job links the two together, as my role is to head up the cardiology and diabetes services at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which covers Fairfield General Hospital, North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary.

The cardiology and diabetes teams see people with diabetes and heart disease on a daily basis, supporting patients in the management of their conditions.

In this month’s blog, I’d like to share a few ways that reduce your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease and what you can do to help manage your condition and stay healthy if you have been diagnosed with either.

First of all, leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle is essential to have a healthy heart. This can be done by eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in fat, salt and sugar. This doesn’t mean you can never eat biscuits or cakes again, but try to eat sugary and fatty foods in moderation. For example, a little chocolate is fine for you, share it with a loved one this Valentine’s and you can half the portion size!

If you smoke, this can also increase your risk of heart disease. My advice would be to stop smoking, and there’s plenty of support on offer to help you. See some tips to help you stop smoking NHS choices, or you can get personalised support from the Bury Stop Smoking service.

Exercise is a fantastic way to reduce your risk of diabetes and keep your heart healthy. It is recommended that we get active for 30 minutes a day, five times a week. This helps you stay at a healthy weight and maintain good general health. A programme called ‘I will if you will’ is a campaign to encourage ladies in Bury to get active and have fun at the same time. There is something for all girls and women to join, from cheerleading to yoga. Find an activity that interests you by visiting the website.

There are some things that we can’t change, like our family genes, so if things like high blood pressure and heart attacks run in the family, it’s even more important to be proactive and keep fit.

Thank you for reading this month.

Dr Susannah Rowles, Clinical Director for Cardiology and Diabetes at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

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