February is National Heart Month

Home Instead Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk have supported the British Heart Foundation campaign during February to raise awareness on heart disease. Directors Sheena and Andrew Van Parys shared some tips and advice on Stray FM Radio’s Health and Wellbeing show on how to keep your heart healthy especially when we grow older.   

Why should I worry about heart disease?

Coronary Heart Disease remains the number 1 killer in the UK, here are some statistics courtesy of Heart UK, the cholesterol charity, stating that each year:

  • 160,000 people die from heart and circulatory disease.
  • 73,000 people die from coronary heart disease (CHD).
  • 40,000 people died from a stroke.
  • 42,000 people died prematurely from cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • Death rates from CHD are the highest in areas of greatest deprivation. 

Your heart is a muscle that needs oxygen from your blood to work properly. Coronary heart disease is when the tubes that supply your heart muscle with blood (your arteries) get clogged up. If the tubes get narrower, less oxygen will get to your heart and you might get chest pain or angina. If a tube gets blocked and the blood can’t get to part of your heart, you will have a heart attack

How can you prevent heart disease?

Get moving- exercise strengthens the heart muscle, keeping it strong, helps lower your cholesterol- a fatty substance in your blood which can cause arteries to clog up, helps lower your blood pressure which means your arteries are less likely to clog up

Doing 10 minutes of exercise within your day- this doesn’t have to mean jogging or high intensity aerobics, gentle everyday exercises such as walking, gardening, and climbing stairs are also beneficial, you can work up to some brisk walking or an exercise class that makes you feel warmer, breath harder and makes your heart beat faster than usual.

Take control of your weight- keeping to a healthy weight can cut down the strain on your heart and help protect against high blood pressure and lower your cholesterol.

According to the BHF, measuring your waist is a good starting point to find out if you are overweight. Women should have a waist size of below 32 inches and men 37 inches

Have a healthy balanced diet – it is important to include at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Choose food options that are low in fat, sugar, and salt.  Fruit, veg and whole grains is better than eating foods high in saturated fat and sugar. 

About fats- to look after your heart you need the right type of fats, replace saturated fats with small amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats, cut down on foods containing trans fats as this can raise the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

Mono unsaturated fats include olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds, unsalted cashews, and avocado.

Polyunsaturated fats include sunflower oil and vegetable oil, walnuts, sunflower seed, and oily fish.

Watch your alcohol intake-  Some of us may have given up alcohol during dry January, but keep in mind that drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can be harmful to your heart and general health. It can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, damage to your heart muscle and other disease such as stroke, liver problems and some cancers. It is also high in calories and it lowers your inhibitions making it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan.

The BHF recommend not to drink more than 14 units a week and you should have some alcohol-free days- make sure you know what a unit is in a measure of alcohol, the number of units is based on the size of the drink and it alcohol strength or ABV (alcohol by volume)

Quit Smoking- smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who have never smoked. Smoking increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease which includes coronary heart disease and stroke.  Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, leading to a build-up of fatty material (theroma) which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, heart attack or stroke. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which means your heart must pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs. The nicotine stimulates your body to produce adrenaline which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure.

But the good news is that the risk to your heart health decrease significantly soon after you stop smoking.

The caring team at Home Instead can support older people who may already be living with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease so it is important for the team to be aware of ways to influence and promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage ways to keep their clients well.

Listen to Sheena and Andrew sharing their advice for older people on Stray FM radio here:


Sheena Van Parys from Home Instead commented; ‘In the work place we have been inspired by National Heart Month and the British Heart Foundation to promote health and well being for our employees. We will be having a weekly fruit box delivered to the office by a local fruit & veg supplier, so fruit will be on hand instead of biscuits. We’ve also started to hold regular mindfulness and relaxation session in the office to all our staff, knowing how to switch off and relax is important for our mental and physical health, so techniques will be shared so our team can take 5 or 10 minutes throughout their busy day to relax.  We will also be encouraging our team to take regular breaks away from their desk and to get moving.’    

Home Instead is changing the way care is delivered in the UK. Their service is tailored to the needs of individual clients and ranges from companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, post-discharge care, personal care, medication reminders, shopping, and errands. The service is flexible to meet client needs and is available from as little as 1 hour to 24 hours a day.

To contact Home Instead in Harrogate call: 01423 774490, for Ripon call: 01765 530400 and for Thirsk call: 01845 440510. For more information about Home Instead please visit: www.homeinstead.co.uk