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Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Did you know that heart disease is one of the main causes of death in Ireland?

You can be at risk of developing heart and circulatory problems if you:

  • Are physical inactive

  • Consume a diet high in salt, fat, and sugar

  • Drink high levels of alcohol

  • Smoke

  • Carry excessive weight particularly around your stomach

  • Have high blood pressure

  • Are stressed

  • Have diabetes

  • Have high cholesterol

These can be modified or changed, and this will reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Heart and circulatory are most common in people over 50 and your risk of developing it increases as you get older.

It is not all bad news; there are many changes that you can make to reduce the likelihood of you developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

How can I lower my chance of high blood pressure and high cholesterol?

Control your blood pressure- It has been found that having uncontrolled high blood pressure in midlife also raises your risk for dementia later in life. Know your numbers by getting your blood pressure checked regularly. If your blood pressure is high, work with your doctor, nurse, or health care team to manage it.

Eat healthy foods - Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, and include seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon) each week. Limit foods with added sugars and saturated fats and lower your salt intake.

Limit alcohol- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and increase the risk of some kinds of heart disease.

Get diabetes under control- Diabetes causes high blood sugar, which can damage blood vessels and nerves. This damage raises the risk for heart disease, stroke, and dementia.

Don’t smoke- Smoking damages blood vessels and makes blood more likely to clot, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Stay active- Lack of physical activity can lead to high blood pressure and obesity. Find ways to get your heart pumping. Aim to reduce sitting time and be active for at least 30 minutes per day.

Did you know?

Heart disease, stroke, and vascular dementia are preventable. Take steps to reduce your risk.

Keep your body and mind healthy

  • Aim to be a healthy weight

  • Have regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks taken with your doctor

  • If you smoke, try to quit. Call the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044 to speak to a trained advisor

  • If you drink alcohol, keep within the recommended limits. No more that 14 units a week on a regular basis. Examples of a ‘standard’ drink are a half pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a pub measured spirit.

How can I get started?

The Green Hearts 30 Day Challenge Guide includes a whole range of tips and advice on how small changes can make big differences to your health. You can pull this leaflet out from this brochure.