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Five steps to a healthy heart

Sparkler heart

Published on 29 September 2021 08:24 AM

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in countries across the world and Scotland is no exception.

Figures from Public Health Scotland showed that 6,560 people died from coronary heart disease in 2019, accounting for 11.3 per cent of all deaths that year. The most recent Scottish Health Survey estimated that around 7 per cent of men and 4 per cent of women are currently living with coronary heart disease.

So today, to mark World Heart Day, we’re focussing on the many ways that older people can significantly reduce the chances of developing heart disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle. It’s never too late to make little changes that can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.

  1. Stop Smoking

We all know smoking is bad for our overall health and not just our heart. Yet stopping is far from easy. If you want help to stop, talk to your GP. There are numerous free resources available to support you. Take advantage of the ones that work best for you.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity increases the risk of developing heart disease. It’s also one of the causes of diseases associated with heart disease, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disorders.

a healthy, balanced diet, rich in nutrients and heart-healthy foods such as leafy green vegetables, lean protein, oily fish and low-fat dairy products, can support a healthy weight.

  1. Get moving

Physical activity is great for the heart. The heart is a muscle so getting it pumping makes it stronger. There’s no need for over-exertion – a 30 minute walk, a dance or movement class for older people, walking sports and swimming are all excellent ways of keeping your heart in good shape.

Age Scotland offers several accessible and fun activity resources – Power Quiz is our latest enjoyable offering for body and mind, or for those who prefer to exercise at home, try Around the House in 80 Days

  1. Stay connected

Loneliness and isolation are at record levels among older people in Scotland, made worse by the pandemic and many months of lockdown and shielding.  Chronic loneliness can adversely affect both physical and mental health. It’s as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which we know is bad for the heart, and puts those affected at greater risk of developing heart disease. 

Now social clubs and events are starting to reopen, it’s the ideal time to go along and enjoy a chat and a cuppa with other people. Keep in touch with friends and family too – make a phone call, drop round for a visit or even write an old-fashioned letter. Age Scotland’s free Friendship line is also available for a chat or a friendly ear to listen – you can call on 0800 12 44 222.

  1. Drink sensibly

If you drink alcohol, stick to the NHS’s recommended maximum limits – no more than 14 units a week for men and women. And if you do drink 14 units a week, spread them over three or more days. Persistent misuse of alcohol greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease.

Even if you drink less than 14 units a week, aim for at least one alcohol-free day a week. Try out a new, tasty non-alcoholic drink instead, which will keep you hydrated as well as being better for your heart.


Contact Age Scotland's media team:

Age Scotland provides a seven day a week response service to media enquiries through a dedicated telephone line and email.

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