Five questions we should be asking about our heart healthPosted on: 29 September 2016 by 50connect editorial
Dr Sarah Brewer a leading GP, Dr Ross Walker an eminent cardiologist with registered Nutritionist Rob Hobson take a look at what’s the latest in heart health.
A recent survey released by Healthspan, revealed that millions of people still have no idea what their cholesterol levels are, while others don't know what their normal blood pressure is. The number of people experiencing heart disease or a stroke has declined by more than three quarters over the last 50 years. Although that represents a great success story, cardiovascular disease still accounts for over a quarter (26%) of all deaths in the UK – almost 160,000 people succumb each year.
Dr Ross Walker, cardiology specialist says: ‘Being heart aware is vital at any age but especially once we get to our forties and fifties. Health checks should be mandatory when you hit your forties. All males should have a coronary calcium score at age 50 & females at 60. This does not involve dye or injections and is low radiation, but is easily the most predictive test for heart disease risk.’
What’s your Ubble Age?
Data from the UK Biobank, collected from nearly half a million adults, has allowed doctors to develop a Risk Calculator that can predict your chance of dying over the next five years. Simply answer a series of 11 to 13 questions about your background, lifestyle and health to discover your Ubble age – which could be significantly lower or higher than your actual age. One surprising question relates to how fast you walk, as data suggests that simply walking faster is associated with a longer life span. Calculate your Ubble age.
How’s your diet?
A worldwide study involving 52 countries concluded that almost one in three heart attacks are linked to having a poor diet. If you eat a heart-friendly diet, however, you can reduce your future risk of a heart attack even if you have already experienced one, and it’s never too late to start. The DASH (Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension) diet is based on the Mediterranean way of eating and can improve many risk factors for heart disease, from blood pressure and type 2 diabetes to cholesterol levels and weight. Find out how to follow the DASH diet here.
Are you getting vitamin D?
New understandings about vitamin D show that it is not just about calcium absorption and healthy bones – it also helps to protect against heart disease by improving blood pressure control and helping to reduce the amount of calcium laid down in artery walls. As we cannot synthesise vitamin D in the skin when the UV index is below 3, Public Health England recently recommended that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter.
How’s your cholesterol?
Having an optimum cholesterol balance is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Eggs are now back on the menu, as it is recognised that they provide many nutritional benefits and, despite their cholesterol content, are not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. The best dietary change you can make is to eat more fruit and vegetables, as they contain plant sterols, which block the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the intestines. Eating Brazil nuts, for example, can have significant effects on your cholesterol levels. The EU has authorised a health claim that plant sterols can reduce blood cholesterol with a daily intake of 1.5-3 g plant sterols – to obtain this dose usually means taking supplements. Find more information on ideal cholesterol levels and how to follow a lower cholesterol diet here.
Are you taking statins?
Between six and seven million people in the UK take statins daily. Dr Ross Walker recommends that all people on statins should take ubiquinol to prevent muscle issues, but he also recommends it as an excellent product to support energy levels and he says it can be taken “purely for energy.” “There is an increasing body of scientific evidence demonstrating clearly that the active version of coenzyme Q10, ubiquinol, is a vital cofactor for good cardiovascular health. There are preliminary studies supporting its use for statin induced myalgia, supportive treatment for congestive cardiac failure and promotion of a healthy cholesterol profile. ” Try Healthspan’s new Ubiquinol Max for cardiovascular support.
Finally, ‘The combination of good quality lifestyle, and targeted supplementation and appropriate medical therapy depending on the estimated level of risk can markedly reduce your risk for cardiac events and keep your heart very healthy.’ concludes Dr Ross Walker.
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