11 Sep 2019

Healthy Heart - Irish Heart Month

Irish Heart Month & World Heart Day

A healthy heart is a happy heart. To support Irish Heart Month and World Heart Day (29th September 2019) we can recommend some advice and supplements to help you look after your heart.

Your heart is a hollow muscular organ about the size of your fist that is slightly to the left of the centre of your chest. Its main job is to pump blood through your blood vessels (arteries and veins) to all parts of your body delivering oxygen and nutrients, and it carries away unwanted waste products. Your heart can beat up to 100,000 times a day, continuously pumping and circulating about 5 litres of blood to all parts of the body to keep your body functioning and healthy. Like any pump there are things you can do to help keep if running smoothly year after year.

How to keep your heart happy and healthy
  • Look after your blood pressure – uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart and blood vessels in a variety of ways. We offer free blood pressure testing in all stores and 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (available in selected stores) to support your needs. Factors affecting blood pressure include stress, smoking, being overweight, diabetes and family history. If you are prescribed blood pressure medication, it’s important to take it as prescribed. Ask in store for more details.

  • Look after your cholesterolcholesterol testing is available in selected stores. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked. Factors affecting cholesterol include obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, smoking, stress, poor diet, age and family history. Ask in store for more details.

  • Quit smoking – smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. Within one year of giving up smoking your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker. We offer a range of Nicotine replacement therapies in store to help you quit smoking. See our smoking cessation services available in-store here.

  • Family history – if you have a family history of heart disease, blood pressure or cholesterol it is a good idea to have an annual check- up with your GP. By monitoring any changes and leading a heathy lifestyle you will be able to manage your health more effectively.

The role of diet and exercise
  • Manage salt intake via your diet to help control your blood pressure. Be careful of added salt content in processed foods. Adults should eat less than 6g (1 teaspoon) of salt a day in total.

  • Alcohol – limit your alcohol intake to the low-risk guidelines for men or women. Drinking more than the low-risk guidelines can be harmful to your heart. Alcohol is also high in calories, so it can lead to weight gain.

For adults, the low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption are:

Men: 17 standard drinks (=170 grams or 210 mls of pure alcohol), spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

Women: 11 standard drinks (=110 grams or 140 mls of pure alcohol), spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days

1 standard drink is half pint of beer or a small glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits.

  • Food types to avoid and healthy eating options – try to follow the recommendations of the food pyramid. Have 5 to 7 servings of fruit and veg a day. Be mindful of calorie intake and portion size. Eat more oily fish which is rich in omega 3. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fats like butter in your diet and opt for healthier options like olive oil. Cut down on foods containing trans fats which are another type of fat that can raise the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Trans fats are found in fried foods, takeaways, snacks like biscuits, cakes, pastries or hard margarines. A healthy balanced diet can help protect your heart by contributing to healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly – we are recommended to do 150 minutes of regular exercise a week divided into five separate 30-minute sessions. Exercise is a great stress buster and mood enhancer. Being active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Managing stress is cardio protective

If you feel stressed, your blood will produce more hormones. Although these hormones are useful in small amounts, too many of them continuously and over time can damage your arteries and may lead to high blood pressure or contribute to high cholesterol levels. Also, when life becomes stressful, people are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink more caffeine, drink too much alcohol and be less physically active. All of these things can also contribute to stroke or heart problems.

By recognising and managing stress you can protect your heart health. Zenflore is a product available in all stores to help alleviate and counteract the effects of stress in the body.

Medication compliance and queries for the pharmacist

Our Pharmacists are always available to discuss your medication questions in-store and offer advice on your cardio vascular health. ‘If in doubt- check it out’

We offer a range of services in our stores to help with your cardiovascular health including free blood pressure tests in-store, cholesterol testing, 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (select stores), and a compression stocking service. Ask in store for details, store contact details can be found here.

To see our recommended products to help support heart health, see our blog here. To learn more about your heart health and supplements please call into one of our stores to discuss your questions with our trained staff and Pharmacists.