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Have a (healthy) heart this Valentine's day

Have a (healthy) heart this Valentine's day

Our placement student, Niall Grieve, explores the benefits of having a healthy heart and what to do to help our heart with some great Valentine's day ideas.

Valentine’s Day is the time of the year to celebrate love and romance, and you won’t go far on February 14th without seeing hundreds of hearts.

But hearts are about more than romance, they play a vital role in our everyday lives. Their function isn’t to make us fall in love, but to keep our blood pumping around our body! However, the heart may work faster when you’re with that special someone! So, it is important we do what we can to protect our hearts and keep them healthy.

So how can we look after our hearts?

  1. Stop smoking. By not smoking you can protect your heart and blood vessels from damage.
  2. Stay physically active - The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity a week with muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week. This will help to keep that blood pumping!
  3. Cut back on salt. Lowering your salt intake to 6g a day or less can help lower your blood pressure, meaning your heat doesn’t have to work overtime to get your blood going.
  4. Eat a balanced diet to help control your weight and keep your cholesterol levels down. Your diet should be low in saturated fat, filled with high fibre foods, fruit and vegetables and lean protein sources.

Following these tips can help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is when your arteries begin to develop fatty plaques which reduce the amount of blood that can get through which can lead to the development of a blood clot, heart attack or stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death on the island of Ireland and worldwide so it is important we do what we can to protect our hearts and keep them strong and healthy.

Some other risk factors that may increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease include being over 40, being male, having a family history of heart disease or being from certain ethnic backgrounds. Now these factors, we have no control over so it is important we do all we can to reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

So, this Valentine’s day, get physically active by going on a romantic walk together. Have a home cooked meal together such as grilled salmon cutlets for some heart-healthy fats and forgo the chocolates for some extra roses or a more personal gift that will last forever.

If you have any concerns about your heart health, visit your local GP and check out our Shake the Salt page on tips to reduce your salt intake and our recipe page for some delicious and healthy recipes! 

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