February is National Heart Month - Raising awareness of heart conditions, how to keep a healthy heart, and how to save a life

10 February

February is National Heart Month; this is held every year and promoted by British Heart Foundation to raise awareness of heart related illnesses, how to keep a healthy heart, and how to help someone who needs CPR.

There are approximately 2.6 million people in the UK living with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).  There are many different types of heart conditions and many ways to help keep your heart healthy.

Types of heart conditions

Some heart conditions are inherited later in life because of genetic markers, or through lifestyle and some heart conditions may be present at birth.

Heart conditions which are commonly found are:

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common forms of heart rhythm abnormalities; it affects about 800,000 people in the UK, mostly those who are over 55 years old. Those who have AF are also at risk of stroke and so need to take treatment.

Keeping a healthy heart

Some ways that you can keep your heart healthy include;

  • Eating less foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar
  • Eating more whole foods which are high in phytonutrients such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and legumes
  • Regular exercise, even moderate daily exercise help keep the heart healthy, such as a brisk daily walk. Swimming is also great for the heart and is a better option if you have any joint problems.

Lifesaving skills

If you are caring for a loved one with a heart condition, then you may be aware of how to use emergency life support skills. It is good to know these skills as a member of the community so that you can help save a life if needed to when you are out and about.

Hands only CPR can help if an adult has;

  • suddenly collapsed,
  • is not breathing normally,
  • and is unresponsive.

These are signs they are in cardiac arrest.  Even if you are untrained, if you act quickly, your actions can help

The following two things you can do and this may help save their life.

  • Call 999
  • Push hard and fast in the centre of their chest about 100 – 120 times a minute until the ambulance service arrives.