It’s World Menopause Day, and this year’s theme is focusing on cardiovascular disease.
Menopause is one of the risk factors that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in women as a result of the lack of oestrogen being produced.
Oestrogeon is necessary for your heart health as it protects the arteries of your heart in a number of ways, including by reducing build-up of fatty plaque. And, while we really do hate to be the bearer of even more bad news: oestrogen can also increase your cholesterol levels, which can further your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases.
So, how can we protect and keep up with our cardiovascular health?
Luckily for us, there are a host of simple things we can do to keep our heart healthy, and we’ve listed them below.
Eat a heart-healthy diet
Eating for a healthy heart means a diet that is full of a variety of fruits and vegetables, swapping to wholegrain foods i.e., pasta and cereals which has more nutrients like dietary fibre and B vitamins, including healthy fats in your diet (don’t be afraid to!) – the best fats to include in your diet are omega-3 and omega-6 fats which you can find in avocados, nuts, fish and sunflower seeds, and reducing your salt intake.
Keeping active is vital for controlling common heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight.
The NHS recommends 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week – but this number doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or forcing yourself through a gruelling HIIT workout every single day. Just a daily brisk walk counts towards the recommended amount.
If you struggle to stay motivated when it comes to getting active, try exercising with a group of friends or family, or if you have a furry friend – bring them along with you for a walk, jog or run!
We know it’s easier said than done, but stopping smoking is one of the best things you could do for your health.
Smoking damages the blood vessels leading to your heart, brain and other parts of your body. This makes you four times more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke and three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death.
You’re three times more likely to stop smoking for good if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment (NRT) and receive support from your local stop smoking service. No matter how many times you’ve tried to quit, it’s still possible to quit for good.
Get a NHS Health Check
An NHS Health Check is a free check-up delivered locally by health professionals and is designed to spot the early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and dementia.
During this ‘Health MOT’, you’ll be asked some lifestyle questions and a health professional will do some simple tests. It only takes 20-30 minutes and they will check your blood pressure, height, weight, BMI (a measure of whether you are a healthy weight), cholesterol and HbA1C levels (diabetes).
To be eligible for an NHS Health Check, you must be aged between 40-74, don’t have a pre-existing health condition and haven’t had an NHS Health Check in the last 5 years.