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​Local GPs get to the heart of the matter for National Heart Month

GPs in Lewisham are encouraging local residents to get 'heart smart' throughout February to reduce their risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in support of National Heart Month.

CVD is an umbrella term that applies to a wide range of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, including stroke, heart attack and heart failure. It's the second biggest killer in the UK after cancer, claiming over 155,000 victims every year.

Over 1m people in London are registered as suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension) and almost 200k are registered with Coronary Heart Disease.  Whilst a further 96k are included on the Stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) register but for or all CVD conditions, London ranks below the national average for both England and the UK. By taking some simple steps to help keep your heart in tip-top condition can help to reduce your risk of developing CVD and ensure you stay fit and healthy for longer." says Dr Marc Rowland, local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham CCG. 

Keep it healthy
Make sure you eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains and little salt and added sugar.

Get on your feet
Every little helps, so take a lunchtime walk or evening stroll, or cycle down to shop to pick up your Sunday newspaper.  Try and build up to 30 minutes each day – you'll feel better for it!

Keep an eye on the pounds
Keeping a healthy weight can help you cut your risk of developing CVD.  Understand your BMI (Body Mass Index) – 18-25 is classed as healthy.  Following the first two steps on this list should help you to maintain a healthy weight no problem!

Stub it out!
We all know smoking is bad for us – but did you know that smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers?  For help and advice on kicking the habit, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.

Bin the booze
Know your limits, and stick to less than 14 units a week.  Also ensure you have a few alcohol-free days each week, and don't save up your units to down in one go – Neither your heart or liver will thank you for it!

Relax!
Dealing with stress by smoking, drinking too much or eating vast amounts of 'comfort' food can put a strain on your heart and increase your risk of CVD.  Clear your head and reduce your stress levels with some exercise or try meditation or mindfulness (www.bemindful.co.uk). 

"Don't forget that if you're age 40-74, you're eligible for a free NHS Health Check with your GP" continues Dr Marc Rowland.

"A Health Check can help to spot the early signs of conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol, enabling you to make changes to your lifestyle and prevent further problems from developing."

"Only 40%[1] in Lewisham took up the offer of a health check last year.  Considering it's free, you really have nothing to lose."

To book your free NHS Health Check, speak to your GP practice.

For more hints and tips on keeping heart healthy, visit www.bhf.org.uk.

[1] http://www.healthcheck.nhs.uk/interactive_map/london_and_integrated_region_and_centre/