World Heart Day - 29th September
Posted by Francis Whitehead on September 29, 2023
Every year, the 29th of September is World Heart Day. Set up by the British Heart Foundation in May 2012, it aims to inform and educate people everywhere about cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and how to prevent and control them.
It was formed after world leaders pledged to reduce global mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025. Cardiovascular disease is the cause of nearly half of all NCD deaths, claiming 18.6 million a year, making it the world’s number one killer. This staggering statistic shows we can all take better care of our hearts, but how can we do that?
Looking After Your Heart
You can look after your heart by understanding what can lead to a greater risk of CVD and make the appropriate changes to your lifestyle.
If you’re a regular smoker, you are at greater risk of CVD as chemicals in cigarette smoke can form plaque in your arteries, leaving blood not able to flow properly through various parts of your body.
This can lead to blood clots with the heart muscle becoming starved for oxygen, making your heart work harder to give your body the oxygenated blood it needs to function. To cut down your risk, you can quit smoking now. There are a ton of resources that can help you do this, including the NHS’s Make Smoking History support campaign.
A diet high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat can also increase your chances of getting cardiovascular disease. Salt and sugar can raise your blood pressure, and saturated fat can clog your arteries and increase your levels of bad cholesterol, all leading to CVD. You can counteract this by keeping track of the traffic lights on food packaging, opting for more green light foods than red ones and making sure you’re having a balanced diet.
According to the NHS, a balanced diet includes:
- low levels of saturated fat – try to include healthier sources of fat, such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil, and avoid unhealthy fats such as fatty cuts of meat, lard, cream, cakes, and biscuits
- low levels of salt – aim for less than 6g (0.2oz or 1 teaspoon) a day
- low levels of sugar
- plenty of fibre and wholegrain foods
- plenty of fruit and vegetables – eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
Another thing to keep track of is your alcohol intake. Excessive amounts of alcohol can impact receptors in blood vessels near the heart that help maintain blood pressure, increasing stress hormones like cortisol which can increase heart rate and blood pressure.
Make sure you don’t exceed over 14 units. 14 units is the equivalent of 6 pints of average-strength beer (4% abv), 7 175ml glasses of wine (11.5% abv), or 14 single shots of spirits (40% strength).
Not getting enough exercise or being sedentary can also increase the risk of CVD. Having a sedentary lifestyle is when you don’t move your body for long periods of time. This can include spending hours watching TV and sitting at a desk or computer for hours on end. You can lower risk by making some small changes in your lifestyle, like:
- Walking to and from work
- Yoga and daily stretches
- Reducing time spent on the couch
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Being physically active doesn’t mean you need to join a gym or run a marathon. It can include things like housework and gardening – it’s all about getting up and moving more.
Living with heart disease can be made more manageable with the help of monitors. Check out our condition guides on angina and stroke to find out more about living with heart conditions. Heart Research UK also has a wealth of resources on things you can do to better look after your heart.
Showing Your Support on World Heart Day
You can show your support on World Heart Day by displaying a ❤️emoji on any social media post you make. You can also make a poster for your social media accounts.
A great way of showing your support is the official World Heart Day challenge, where you run, walk, or bike on a route that forms a heart shape in your city. You can do this by planning a route on any fitness app, making your way round the whole route, and sharing the end result. You can also raise money for charities like the British Heart Foundation by getting people to sponsor you on this challenge. An amazing gallery of last year’s entries is available to see on their page.
This year, you might see landmarks being lit up red to show their support for World Heart Day. In the UK, Blackpool Tower was the first to do this.
Get in Touch
How will you be showing your support on World Heart Day? Ability Superstore would love to know! If you have any questions or inquiries about how to further help and support someone living with heart disease or another form of CVD, please do get in touch. Ability Superstore will be more than happy to help!