How to have a happy healthy heart

( — Many of us don’t tend to get sensible about our heart health when we’re ­reasonably young and pretty fit, but this could be a serious mistake.

Experts say the things we do right the way through our lives can have a major impact on heart health, especially after the menopause.

Some people have a higher risk than others. If your family has ­a history of very high cholesterol, or if an immediate relative has died of heart disease – your mum or sister before the age of 65 or ­your dad or brother before 55 – ­you ­need to get checked out and ­stay monitored.

If there are other possible ­inherited heart diseases in your family, like if there has been a ­sudden death of a family member at a young age, you should have ­an ECG and heart scan. If there is Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in your family, have a ­glucose test, as ­diabetes can be a high risk factor ­for heart disease.

Otherwise, if you’re in your 40s or older you can ask for a health check at your surgery – by the end of this year everyone over 40 will be invited to have one.

Senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation Ellen Mason says: “You will have your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart tested and your family health ­history will be discussed. Then your risk of ­having heart disease over the next 10 years will be estimated. This test will allow potential problems to be addressed before it’s too late.”

In the meantime, keep active, get your blood pressure checked, eat a healthy diet that’s low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fats, and keep your weight within a BMI of 20-25. Follow these tips to keep your ticker ticking over…

Keep active

We all know exercise is vital for a healthy heart. But a quick jog ­a couple of times a week is far from enough. According to the British Heart Foundation, being fully active means 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.

This could include brisk walking, cycling, or a Wii Fit session. Those 30 minutes can be broken up into smaller bouts, taking the stairs at work instead of the lift, or getting off your bus a stop early.

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