Starting September 29th, celebrate World Heart Day by using heart to beat cardiovascular disease. “Using heart” is about understanding what it takes to make changes that will help keep your heart healthy, being a positive role-model for your loved ones, and acting in a way that will help keep those with underlying heart conditions safe in the time of COVID-19.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term that refers to any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessels. There are many types of heart disease, but the most prevalent are heart attack and stroke.
Many people have been impacted by CVD. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death around the world. But the good news is that there are many things that you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, including “using heart” to…
Make healthy changes
Keeping your heart healthy by making small changes in your lifestyle can help you avoid premature death from CVD. Consider following the advice below to help beat heart disease:
- Get more active. Regularly participating in heart-pumping physical activity can help reduce your risk of both heart disease and stroke. If you’re new to physical activity or if you haven’t been active in a while, start off by walking for 10 to 15 minutes a few times per week. Slowly increase until you are exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. Participating in at-home exercises is also a great way of increasing your activity minutes.
- Eat well and drink wisely. Eat a variety of nutritious foods each day, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain foods (e.g. whole grain bread, wild or brown rice, oats, quinoa) and protein foods (e.g. lean meat, fish, peas, beans, lentils). Try to limit processed and prepackaged foods, which often contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat. Drink lots of water and try to avoid drinking alcohol. If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Make a plan to quit smoking. If you stop smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time. Avoid smoke-filled environments: exposure to secondhand smoke significantly increases the risk of heart disease.
- Take steps to reduce stress. Learn to identify the things that are causing you stress so you can deal with them effectively.
- Attend regular check-ups. If you have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, don’t let COVID-19 stop you from checking-in with your healthcare provider. They are here to support you as you manage your health condition(s).
Use your influence to role model healthy behaviours and to encourage others to make heart healthy choices. For example, turn family time into active time, prepare heart healthy recipes that you can share with your loved ones, support your friends and family members who are trying to quit smoking and/or have open conversations with your loved ones about mental health and ways to cope with stress. Providing others with support can be very powerful as they work towards making healthy lifestyle changes.
Keep our communities safe
Some individuals in our communities are more at risk of getting an infection and developing severe complications, including those with underlying heart disease. In the time of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to work together and do our best to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. This means continuing washing our hands, practicing physical distancing and wearing a face mask when a 2-meter distance can’t be maintained and staying home when you are sick.
There are many small steps you can take to protect yourself and others from heart disease. So, consider taking a step towards better heart health by making one these changes today. Remember that every step counts!
For more information about World Heart Day and heart disease prevention, please visit the World Heart Federation’s website at: https://www.world-heart-federation.org/world-heart-day/world-heart-day-2020/