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Cheshire and Merseyside Happy Hearts

Health services, local authorities, charities and other partners across Cheshire and Merseyside are working together to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Health services, local authorities, charities and other partners across Cheshire and Merseyside are working together to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

About Happy Hearts

Together we can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke during COVID-19

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Living healthily

It's never too late to make positive changes to how you live your day to day life.

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What is CVD?

'Cardiovascular disease' (CVD) refers to a group of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, for example, heart attack and stroke.

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Blood pressure

Is your blood pressure too high?

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Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the body's normal function. It's mainly made by the liver, but can also be found in some foods.

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Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

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About Happy Hearts

Together we can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke during COVID-19

Together we can beat heart disease

Health services, local authorities, charities and other partners across Cheshire and Merseyside are working together to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The best thing we can all do to stay well is to adopt healthy behaviours in our everyday lives.

We can also do more to prevent, find and manage conditions that increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, such as;

  • Atrial Fibrillation (a type of abnormal heart rhythm)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes

Across Cheshire & Merseyside around 650,000 people are thought to have high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Of these around 260,000 people (40%) don’t yet know they are affected and at risk.

Around 66,000 people have an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), a condition which, if untreated, can lead to stroke.

Around 52,000 people had a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA) in 2016/17.

Think blood pressure, think pharmacy…

Caroline Williams, a Community Pharmacist in Cheshire East, explains how your local Healthy Living Pharmacy can offer you a free blood pressure check. They are also able to offer lifestyle advice and guidance in order to help keep your heart happy.

What do we want to do?

We aim to help people to keep their hearts happy and lower their chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

To do this, the Cheshire and Merseyside Happy Hearts website will share local, practical information on:

  • how to live healthily and stay well
  • conditions that increase the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, such as;
    • atrial fibrillation
    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
  • how and where you can get your numbers checked
  • how you can help to manage and control these conditions to lower your CVD risk

The challenge

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the main cause of death in England – and were responsible for 33% of deaths in 2010. Coronary heart disease and stroke accounted for the majority of those deaths.

Conditions that increase the risk of CVD, such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are very common across Cheshire and Merseyside, but many people don’t know they are affected as there may be no symptoms.

We need to do more to prevent, detect and control the conditions that can lead to CVD.

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Tue, 06 Apr 2021 12:24:22 GMT
Modified on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 12:38:41 GMT

Living healthily

It's never too late to make positive changes to how you live your day to day life.

There are huge benefits to stopping smoking, being more active, limiting alcohol intake and eating more healthily.

How can I reduce my risk of CVD?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of Cardiovascular Disease. See the icons below and click to read more about how you can help to keep your heart happy.

Also visit the ‘Being happy and healthy during COVID-19‘ page

Live well

Small and simple changes could make a huge difference! A healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent CVD. See below for more information.

Know your numbers!

Most people know their weight, but do you know what your blood pressure is? Or your cholesterol? The only way to find out is to get checked. See below for more information.

If you’re aged 40-74 years old you may be eligible for a FREE NHS health check. Part of this check involves assessing your individual CVD risk and advising you how to reduce it.

1. High Blood Pressure – know your numbers

Having a healthy blood pressure is essential to maintaining a healthy heart.
More than one in ten people living in York are known to have high blood pressure (hypertension), a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.
What’s your blood pressure? Do you know your numbers? Next time you see your doctor or practice nurse, ask them to check.

2. Smoking – time to quit smoking!

Giving up smoking is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your heart health. That’s because people who smoke are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who don’t smoke.
Download this free NHS stop smoking app to your mobile phone.

In next to no time you will feel the health and financial benefits of stopping smoking, including:

  • reducing the risk of developing illnesses and death caused by cancer, heart and lung disease – 90 per cent of all cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking;
  • getting rid of the nicotine in your body: after stopping smoking for 48 hours there is none left, which will make a huge difference to your sense of smell and taste;
  • improved fitness levels making it easier to run or play with your children, family or friends;
  • saving money: giving up a 20-a-day habit will save you over £45 a week. Quitters will save over £2,000 in a single year!

Some tips to help you quit:

  • write down all the reasons you want to stop and stick it on the fridge to help you stay motivated;
  • keep yourself busy;
  • talk to your friends, family and workmates – support from them is essential. Why not quit together to help keep each other motivated?

3. High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. It’s mainly made by the liver, but can also be found in some foods.

High cholesterol itself doesn’t usually cause any CVD symptoms, but if you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can increase your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

The first step in reduce cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. It’s important to eat a diet low in fatty food.

You can swap food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help prevent high cholesterol reoccurring.

Other lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly and stopping smoking (if you do smoke), can also significantly help to lower cholesterol.

If these measures don’t reduce your cholesterol and you continue to have a high risk of developing heart disease, your GP may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as statins.

Read more about how cholesterol is treated.

4. Overweight – are you a healthy weight?

Have a look at the NHS BMI healthy weight calculator to help you decide.

Get started on the NHS weight loss plan.

You can also download the NHS weight loss plan to your smartphone.

5. Poorly Controlled Diabetes

People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes makes it difficult for the body to control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and cause a range of complications such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke and angina.

If you have diabetes make sure that you have all of your regular check-ups with your doctor and/or practice nurse. These include:

  • measuring your blood glucose level (HbA1c), blood pressure and cholesterol level
  • retinal (eye) screening
  • foot and leg check
  • blood and urine testing (to check kidney function)
  • weight check
  • smoking status

You can find out more information about diabetes and cardiovascular disease from:

6. Inactivity

Infographic.

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose.

People who are active regularly are less likely to develop many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. It can also reduce the risk of developing stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What counts?

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active every day and try to be physically active (through a variety of activities) for at least 150 minutes in total every week.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life. Why not walk or cycle instead of using the car to get around? The more you do, the healthier you’ll feel, while taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.

For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song.

If your activity requires you to work even harder, it is called vigorous intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity.

You can tell when it’s vigorous activity because you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has increased quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

There’s lots of information about building up and maintaining your fitness on the Live Well pages at the NHS Website.

Click below to find out if you’re doing enough for your age:

7. Too Much Alcohol – when a sociable tipple becomes a health risk…

Do you know how much you are drinking? Keep a drinks diary for a week to help you find out. You might be surprised!

Drinking more than the recommended units of alcohol can have a harmful effect on your heart and on your health generally.

It can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, heart failure, as well as stroke, liver problems and some cancers.

Find out more about managing the amount of alcohol you drink on the NHS Website.

8. Eat well!

There’s lots of ways you can help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease, such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

We recommend eating a healthy, balanced, high-fibre diet – that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.

Too much salt will increase your blood pressure, so it’s best to limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than about a teaspoon (6g) a day.

There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid food containing saturated fats because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter
  • ghee, a type of butter often used in Indian cooking
  • lard
  • cream
  • hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • foods that contain coconut or palm oil

But a balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats, which increase levels of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries. Foods high in unsaturated fat include:

  • oily fish
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds
  • sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils

You should also try to avoid too much sugar in your diet as this can increase your chances of developing diabetes, which is proven to dramatically increase your chances of developing CHD.

Read more about:

9. Stress

Stress contributes to high blood pressure, which is also a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Spotting the early signs of stress will also help prevent it getting worse and potentially causing serious complications, such as high blood pressure
If you’re struggling with stress, there’s lots of useful information about how to manage it on the NHS Website.

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Thu, 01 Apr 2021 15:07:14 GMT
Modified on Tue, 06 Apr 2021 15:11:01 GMT

What is CVD?

'Cardiovascular disease' (CVD) refers to a group of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, for example, heart attack and stroke.

‘Cardiovascular disease’ (CVD) refers to a group of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, for example, heart attack and stroke.

CVD is associated with damage to many parts of the body such as the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes and limbs.

Heart attacks and strokes are common, but many could be prevented

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.

It’s usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries – known as atherosclerosis – and an increased risk of blood clots. It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

The three main conditions are:

  • coronary heart disease (which can cause angina or heart attack)
  • stroke
  • peripheral arterial disease (also known as peripheral vascular disease)

CVD is one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK, but often it can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle.

Causes of CVD

There are many things that can increase your risk of developing CVD. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances are of developing CVD.

How happy is your heart?

Check your heart age here.

What does it tell you about your heart? Whatever the answer, now is the right time to think about how to change your lifestyle for the better. We’ve put together some of our favourite sources of information, advice and help so that you can find them easily.

You could also talk to your practice nurse about how you can get the most health benefits from this information.

What is cardiovascular disease risk?

Practice nurse Jan Procter-King explains what is meant by ‘your CVD risk’

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Thu, 01 Apr 2021 15:03:59 GMT
Modified on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 12:34:09 GMT

Is your blood pressure too high?

Checking your blood pressure

Find out how to check your blood pressure and whether you are at risk.

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Hypertension

So you’ve been told your blood pressure is too high?

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Resources

More resources, links and helplines

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Checking your blood pressure

Find out how to check your blood pressure and whether you are at risk.

Why should I know my blood pressure?

If your blood pressure is too high, it can do massive damage. It narrows the blood vessels and can cause strokes and heart attacks, angina, heart failure, kidney failure and narrowed leg arteries.

Taking just five minutes to measure your blood pressure could save your life! Your practice nurse or pharmacist can measure your blood pressure, or you can take it yourself at home using a blood pressure monitor.

Click here for a short video by Blood Pressure UK on why you should Know Your Numbers!

How do I know if my blood pressure is too high?

If your blood pressure readings from any setting are consistently above 140/90mmHg you may have high blood pressure. You should get a review at your GP surgery to check. Sustained high blood pressure can damage the heart and increase the risk of stroke.

A few simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference..

  • eat more fruit and vegetables
  • eat less salt
  • only drink alcohol in moderation
  • lose weight if you need to
  • be active
  • stop smoking

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, making some simple lifestyle changes may help prevent you developing it in the future.

Check to see if you are at risk of high blood pressure here

When should I get my blood pressure checked?

As a guide, if your blood pressure is in the healthy range (129/84mmHg or less) it is recommend you get your blood pressure checked at least every 5 years.

If your blood pressure is on the higher side of normal (between 130/85mmHg and 139/89mmHg) it is recommended that you make lifestyle changes and recheck within a year.

If your blood pressure is high or very high you should follow clinical advice on how often to monitor your blood pressure.

Measuring blood pressure at home

We encourage people to check their blood pressure at home for a more accurate reading. It is often more reliable than getting it checked at a hospital clinic or at your GP practice, as people tend to be more relaxed in their own surroundings.

Buying a blood pressure monitor

To measure your blood pressure at home, you will need a home blood pressure monitor. You can buy a blood pressure monitor for as little as £10. If you are buying a blood pressure monitor, make sure it is approved for use in the UK.

To make sure your monitor is accurate, choose one that is accredited (usually stated on the BP machine box) or choose one that has been listed as validated for accuracy by the British Hypertension Society. This means that the digital monitor has gone through a series of tests to make sure it provides reliable results.

How to check your blood pressure at home

Take a look at this video from the British Heart Foundation on how to measure your own blood pressure

Practical tips for checking your blood pressure

Make sure the cuff fits
Measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.

Be still
Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Instructional image

Sit correctly
Sit with your back straight and supported (eg: on a dining chair rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor and legs uncrossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table), with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the middle of the cuff is placed directly above the eye of the elbow. Check your blood pressure machine’s instructions for an illustration.

Take multiple readings
Take two or three readings one minute apart and record all the results. Use the lowest reading.

Measure at the same time of day
It’s important to take the readings at the same time each day (eg morning and evening), or as your healthcare professional recommends.

Accurately record all your results
Record all your readings, including the date and time taken. Remember to take your results with you if you are seeing your practice nurse or GP about your blood pressure. Some monitors have built-in memory to store your readings. If yours does, take it with you to your appointments.

Understand the readings
A healthy blood pressure is usually less than 140/90 mmHg. Find out more about what your blood pressure readings mean below.

Know Your Numbers – Is my blood pressure high, normal or low?

High blood pressure
If you consistently have a clinic BP reading of 140/90 or higher, you may have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of developing certain health conditions, including heart attacks and strokes. Generally, the lower your blood pressure, the healthier you are. A healthy blood pressure is normally less than 140/90. If you have high blood pressure, you should be aiming for a reading less than 140/90. Your doctor or specialist may aim for a lower blood pressure if you have diabetes or kidney disease, but for people under the age of 80, 140/90 is a good target.

Low blood pressure
People with readings of around 100/60 or lower are generally considered to have low blood pressure.

Low blood pressure can sometimes cause dizziness. If you are on treatment to lower your blood pressure, have readings below 100/60 and feel dizzy, you should talk to your practice nurse or GP about reducing your medication.

It is also important to think about low blood pressure when you are feeling ill. If you are on treatment to lower your blood pressure and feeling ill, you can sometimes get dehydrated. Conditions like sickness and diarrhoea can cause dehydration. Dehydration can result in low blood pressure and dizziness, and it can affect your kidneys. It is worth speaking to your GP if this affects you as it might be sensible to reduce some of your blood pressure medicine until your blood pressure returns to normal and you are no longer dehydrated.

Resources

WATCH British Heart Foundation video on high blood pressure and heart disease.

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 15:20:15 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 14:20:11 GMT

Hypertension

So you’ve been told your blood pressure is too high?

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is one of the most common health problems in the UK, affecting over a quarter of people in England.

Estimates suggest over 260,000 people across Cheshire and Merseyside have undiagnosed high blood pressure.

Health risks

High blood pressure doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms but, if left untreated, it can cause significant damage to arteries and organs. The narrowing of the arteries, for example, can cause strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, angina, kidney failure and narrowing of the leg arteries.

What causes high blood pressure?

There isn’t always an explanation for the cause of high blood pressure, but these are factors:

What treatment is available for high blood pressure?

First line management is simple lifestyle changes as outlined in the lifestyle section. If your blood pressure remains high you may be prescribed medicine to control it. This will reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Most people require two or three medicines to reduce their blood pressure to recommended levels. It is sometime more effective to use two or more drugs which work on different areas of the body to reduce blood pressure and minimise the risk of side effects.

Trying to be more active, losing weight if you are overweight, limiting salt and alcohol can all improve blood pressure – sometimes as much as taking one additional blood pressure medicine and with additional health benefits!

Read more about how to help prevent high blood pressure.

What do my blood pressure numbers mean?

For many people, the usual target reading for blood pressure is below 140/90 mmHg.

However, your doctor may recommend a lower target if you have heart or circulatory disease, including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack or stroke, diabetes or kidney disease.

Every blood pressure reading consists of two numbers or measurements. They are shown as one number on top of the other and measured in mmHg, which means millimetres of mercury.

If your reading is 120/80mmHg, for example, you might hear your doctor or nurse say your blood pressure is “120 over 80”.

The first (or top) number represents the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts and pumps blood through your arteries – your systolic blood pressure.

The second (or bottom) number represents the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats – your diastolic blood pressure.

How can I monitor my blood pressure?

A good way to monitor your blood pressure is by checking it at home. Blood pressure machines can be bought from most pharmacies and supermarkets. Upper arm blood pressure machines are recommended rather than wrist machines.

If you have an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation) some of the standard blood pressure monitors may not be accurate. Therefore, you need to check that any device used to check your blood pressure is appropriate.

Here is a list of blood pressure machines validated by the British and Irish Hypertension Society. You could also ask your local community pharmacy (chemist) to measure your blood pressure; while some GP surgeries have free-to-use self-service blood pressure monitors in waiting rooms.

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 15:35:06 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:25:29 GMT

Resources

More resources, links and helplines

More websites

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring resources:

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring resources:

Need another language?

Telephone helplines

  • BPUK helpline – Call 020 7882 6218 (or email help@bloodpressureuk.org)
  • BHF Heart Helpline – 0300 330 3311 weekdays 9am- 5pm, Saturdays 10am – 4pm.

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 16:12:42 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:29:35 GMT

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 14:48:31 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:45:34 GMT

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the body's normal function. It's mainly made by the liver, but can also be found in some foods.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood.

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Resources

Where else can I find helpful information?

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What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood.

What is cholesterol?

If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can increase your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. If you have been prescribed statins, your doctor has assessed that you are at significant risk of CVD. Statins can reduce this risk by a third if taken properly and at the right dose.

Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins. When the two combine, they’re called lipoproteins.

The two main types of lipoprotein are:

  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it’s broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. For this reason, HDL is referred to as good cholesterol, and higher levels are better.
  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol to the cells that need it, but if there’s too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. For this reason, LDL is known as bad cholesterol.

The amount of cholesterol in the blood (both HDL and LDL) can be measured with a blood test.

Why should I lower my cholesterol?

Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:

What causes high cholesterol?

Many factors can increase your chances of having heart problems or a stroke if you have high cholesterol.

These include:

  • an unhealthy diet – in particular, eating high levels of saturated fat
  • smoking – a chemical found in cigarettes called acrolein stops HDL transporting cholesterol from fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • having a family history of stroke or heart disease

There’s also an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia, which can cause high cholesterol even in someone who eats healthily.

What should my cholesterol levels be?

If you need to have your cholesterol measured, it will be in units called millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/l).

As a general guide, you should aim to have a total cholesterol level of under 4mmol/l – especially if you are at risk of, or already have, heart and circulatory disease.

You should also aim to have your LDL under 2mmol/l and your HDL above 1mmol/l.

However, cholesterol is only one risk factor and the level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.

How can I improve my cholesterol levels?

Lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet; taking regular exercise and giving up smoking, help to improve cholesterol levels.

You can swap food containing saturated fat with fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help prevent high cholesterol returning.

But even the strictest low-fat diet can only lower your cholesterol level by up to 10%. This is why it will usually be recommended that you take statins if you are considered to be at high risk of a heart attack or stroke.

But don’t forget, making lifestyle changes will still reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

What are statins and why do they help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes?

Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your blood.

LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad cholesterol, and statins reduce its production inside the liver.

Statins can reduce this risk by a third if taken properly and at the right dose.

Statins are one of the most researched medicines in the world and there is very strong evidence that they help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Statins are most beneficial when you take them on a long-term basis.

Who should take statins?

Having a high level of LDL cholesterol is potentially dangerous, as it can lead to the hardening and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis) and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

You can also be at risk of CVD with what used to be considered normal levels of cholesterol. Statins may be recommended if you have been diagnosed with a form of CVD or have a high risk of developing it in the next 10 years.

Statins can also be used to treat people with a condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia. This is an inherited condition caused by a genetic fault that leads to high cholesterol levels, even in people who have a generally healthy lifestyle.

A patients decision aid is available from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to help you decide whether you need to take statins to help reduce your risk of having high cholesterol.

When starting a new statin, a routine blood test is advised after three months. You can arrange this with your GP in the usual way. This should demonstrate that your cholesterol level is lower than on your previous treatment.

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 16:35:34 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 14:20:25 GMT

Resources

Where else can I find helpful information?

Leaflets

Need a different language?

Telephone helpline

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 16:36:03 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:30:07 GMT

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 16:17:17 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:45:23 GMT

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. It is one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and a major cause of stroke. We estimate that around 60,000 people in the Cheshire & Merseyside area are affected with 12,000 of that number who are undiagnosed.

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

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Resources

Where else can I find helpful information?

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What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

When the heart beats normally, its muscular walls contract (tighten and squeeze) to force blood out and around the body. They then relax, so the heart can fill with blood again. This process is repeated every time the heart beats.

In atrial fibrillation, the heart’s upper chambers (atria) contract randomly and sometimes so fast that the heart muscle can’t relax properly between contractions. This reduces the heart’s efficiency and performance.

Atrial fibrillation occurs when abnormal electrical impulses suddenly start firing in the atria. These impulses override the heart’s natural pacemaker, which can no longer control the rhythm of the heart. This causes the person to have a highly irregular pulse rate.

The cause isn’t fully understood, but it tends to become more common as you get older. It may be triggered by certain situations, such as drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoking.

Read more about the causes of atrial fibrillation.

What is atrial fibrillation? – video from BHF

What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?

AF can cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.

You may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations, where your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly, often for a few seconds or, in some cases, a few minutes.

Sometimes, atrial fibrillation doesn’t cause any symptoms and a person is completely unaware that their heart rate isn’t regular.

Read more about the symptoms of atrial fibrillation.

How can I check for atrial fibrillation?

A normal heart rate should be regular and between 60 and 100 beats per minute when resting.

In atrial fibrillation, the heart rate is irregular and can sometimes be very fast. In some cases, it can be considerably higher than 100 beats per minute.

You can measure your heart rate by feeling the pulse in your neck or wrist. Use the British Heart Foundation guide to make sure you know how to check your pulse.

How to check your pulse – video from BHF

When to see your GP?

You should make an appointment to see your GP if:

  • you notice a sudden change in your heartbeat
  • your heart rate is consistently lower than 60 or above 100 – particularly if you’re experiencing other symptoms of atrial fibrillation, such as dizziness and shortness of breath

See your GP as soon as possible if you have chest pain.

Treating atrial fibrillation

Most people with AF will require an anticoagulant, but a small number of these won’t as it depends on the risk.

Anticoagulation means that you take a medicine to reduce the chance of a blood clot forming and having an AF-related stroke.

Anticoagulant drugs like warfarin and a newer class of drugs called NOACs are the most effective treatments to reduce the risk of stroke in people with AF.

Some people with AF need medications to help control the rate and rhythm of their heart. These medications are most commonly beta blockers and anti-arrhythmic drugs.

Occasionally, a procedure such as ablation or cardioversion may be needed.

If I’ve got AF, what is my risk of having a stroke?

AF Stroke Risk Calculator – if you have AF, click here to calculate your personal risk of suffering a stroke

If I’ve got AF, what can I do to reduce the risk of having a stroke?

AF can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the heart. If the clot travels to the brain, it can lead to a stroke.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of a stroke by around four to five times. However, with appropriate treatment the risk of stroke can be substantially reduced.

Most people with AF will require an anticoagulant, but a small number won’t, as it depends on risk.

Depending on your level of risk, you may be prescribed warfarin or a newer type of anticoagulant, such as dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban or edoxaban.

They work by slowing down the blood’s blotting process, and reduce the risk of stroke by nearly two thirds for people with AF. In other words, these treatments can prevent about six out of ten strokes.

Your GP or pharmacist will be able to discuss your options with you.

Aspirin isn’t recommended to prevent strokes caused by AF, but is still used for other heart conditions.

Although AF can greatly increase the risk of stroke, there are other factors that can contribute to a stroke, including:

  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • physical inactivity
  • being overweight
  • diabetes.

The good news is some of these factors are modifiable – this means you can do something about them to reduce your chance of a stroke, whether or not you have AF.

Links:

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 17:02:11 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:30:29 GMT

Resources

Where else can I find helpful information?

Websites

Checking your pulse

Leaflets

Need another language?

Telephone helplines

  • Arrhythmia Alliance – 01789 867501 weekdays 9am to 5:30pm
  • AF Association – 01789 867502 weekdays 9am to 5:30pm
  • BHF Heart Helpline – 0300 330 3311 weekdays 9am-5pm, Saturdays 10am- 4pm

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:43:10 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:43:10 GMT

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Wed, 07 Apr 2021 16:53:46 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:47:52 GMT

COVID-19

Reduce the risk of heart attack & stroke during COVID-19

Content provided by Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts.

The aim of Cheshire & Merseyside’s Happy Hearts website is to help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Published on Thu, 01 Apr 2021 14:47:57 GMT
Modified on Thu, 08 Apr 2021 15:56:54 GMT