Four lifestyle changes to have a ‘heart healthy’ summer – cardiologist’s advice

Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021

Heart and circulatory diseases are one of the biggest causes of death in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all fatalities.

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of these conditions, including your diet, how much you exercise and your weight.

More specifically avoiding foods high in saturated fats and taking part in around two and a half hours of exercise a week is known to help prevent the likelihood of heart problems.

An expert spoke with about how to support good heart health this summer

Doctor Oliver Guttmann, consultant cardiologist at The Wellington Hospital, shared four simple ways to do this.

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He said: “It’s important to try and follow a heart healthy diet which is easily done by reducing your intake of foods and drinks with high levels of fats and sugars.

“However, this is only one piece in the puzzle to a healthy heart.

“Following a heart healthy lifestyle is also incredibly important.”

Four ways to promote good heart health, according to Dr Guttmann:

  1. Limit your alcohol consumption and avoid excessive alcohol intake, as this can lead to high blood pressure.

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2. Regular exercise is also a great way to promote heart health – whether it’s a daily walk, a gym session, or a team sporting activity, moving your body is what matters.

3. Around seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per night – the worse your sleep quality/duration, the higher your risk of heart disease.

4. Quit smoking – this is one of the best things you can do for your heart health.


Dr Guttmann also warned that it can be hard to stick to a heart-friendly diet over the summer.

He said: “With summer typically being a season of indulging it can sometimes be harder to follow a heart healthy diet.

“For instance, there are certain foods and drinks we’ll often find on our plates and in our glasses at BBQs that don’t promote good heart health, including processed foods, red meats, and sugar sweetened beverages.

“That said, a heart healthy diet doesn’t need to be restrictive and there are tonnes of options to incorporate into our diet that not only taste delicious, but also promote heart health.”

He recommended eating plenty of:

  • Lean meat such as skinless chicken breast, or fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon
  • Leafy greens such as spinach and kale
  • Berries.

He also advised against the following:

  • Opting for processed foods which are usually high in unhealthy fats
  • High consumption of fatty red meats as this can increase cholesterol levels and in turn the risk of heart disease
  • Binge drinking – excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure, but it’s also likely to impact your sleep quality which also risks your heart health if consistent.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of coronary heart disease include:

  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper belly area or back
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in the legs or arms if the blood vessels in those body areas are narrowed.

If you are concerned about your heart health you should speak to your GP.

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