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Have you already been diagnosed with heart disease, or had a heart attack in the past? If you hire me as your personal trainer, I will liaise with your GP and heart specialist, and design a personal training programme (exercise and healthy eating plan) that suits your needs.
These are the main risk factors, and most can be reduced by changes in lifestyle:
Smoking is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease. You're at even higher risk if you are a heavy smoker, have smoked for a long time, or if you're a female smoker. If you quit smoking this is the single biggest thing you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease. If you're regularly exposed to second hand smoke from other smokers, you're also at high risk of heart disease, so if you live with someone who smokes, it's in your interests to encourage them to quit.
You can lower your blood pressure by taking more exercise, losing excess weight, and eating a healthier diet, particularly reducing your salt intake. One of my personal training clients in Wanstead stopped eating crisps on my advice, and two months later his blood pressure had fallen dramatically, back to heathy levels.
Your heart is your most important muscle - it needs to be exercised to stay healthy. Do at least 30 minutes moderate physical exercise a day (such as walking). In addition, make sure you do some cardiovascular exercise (where your heart level is raised) for 20 - 30 minutes three times a week.
If you're obese (over 30% body fat for men, over 40% body fat for women) you're in the danger zone for heart disease. The best way to reduce excess weight is regular exercise and healthy diet.
The key is to reduce your intake of saturated fat (found mainly in red meat, cheese, cream, butter, the skin of chicken) and also hydrogenated fat (also known as trans-fats) found in some junk food and takeaways. Then make sure you get plenty of fruit and veg. And keep an eye on your carbohydrate intake - avoid refined carbs, and go for complex carbs.
If you're drinking over 21 units a week for men, or over 14 units a week for women, you're in the danger zone for heart disease. Ideally drink half these units if you want to reduce your risk significantly.
Saturated fat is the main culprit in high cholesterol. Most GP surgeries in London can arrange a free cholesterol test, so you can check that your cholesterol levels are healthy.
80% of diabetics eventually die from heart disease. But with regular exercise and a healthy diet, you can avoid Type 2 diabetes, which is mainly lifestyle related. Even if you get Type 2 diabetes, you can manage it by exercise and good diet, which will reduce your risk of heart disease significantly.
Any form of stress over a period of time can raise your risk levels, but it's mainly workplace stress that is the biggest factor. Working long hours (over 10 hours a day on a regular basis), excessive workplace noise (such as heavy industry, building sites), and psychological stress of not being in control of your workload, have all been shown to raise your risk of heart disease.
Recent studies have shown that gum disease and poor oral health generally, increase your risk of heart disease. If you brush your teeth twice a day, chew sugar-free gum after meals, floss regularly, visit your dentist once a year for a check-up, use Listerine, and see your dentist as soon as any problems appear, you'll reduce this risk factor significantly.
Your family history, your gender, and your ethnicity and your age, are all risk factors. These four are outside your control, but there is a lot that you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, because most of the risk factors listed on this page are in your control.
Changes in heart rhythm, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, pains in the chest or arms. If you or anyone close by gets any sudden pains in the chest or arms, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.