Heart Health Advice
The good news is that high blood pressure can often be treated by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle. Weâ€™ll be happy to give you personal advice when you visit us for your FREE blood pressure test. In the meantime, here are a few hints and tips:
Eat a healthy diet to get off to a great start
A better diet and sensible drinking can make a big difference to your blood pressure. So we recommend that you:
Eat less salt
Eating a very salty diet is never good for your heart. So itâ€™s wise to refrain from adding it to your meals and to check the levels in the food you buy. Even unlikely foods such as cereals can contain a surprising amount of salt, the maximum recommended amount is 6g a day.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol is high in calories which can cause you to gain weight. Also, you should not exceed the recommended levels of alcohol consumption of 14 units a week for women and 21 units for men.
Eat more fruit and veg
Most fruit and vegetables contain potassium which helps to lower blood pressure. Nutritionists recommend that you have at least five portions every day.
Eat less fatty food
It sounds obvious but eating less fat particularly saturated fat can have a big impact on keeping your heart healthy. Itâ€™s fairly easy to cut down by taking simple steps like choosing lean cuts of meat and trimming off any visible fat, baking, grilling or steaming foods instead of frying them and choosing low fat dairy products like skimmed milk
Give up smoking â€“ add years to your life
Stopping smoking will not only reduce your risk of heart disease, it'll also give you so many other health benefits â€“ not to mention saving you money. Giving up is tougher than most people think, but it's well worth it. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
Know why you're giving up
If you believe in the reasons why you're giving up, you'll find it easier to stay motivated throughout.
Medicines can help
Giving up can have temporary side effects such as headaches and irritability. Nicotine replacement therapy can help
Use diversion techniques
If you understand why and when you feel the need for a cigarette (e.g. to cope with pressure) you can form a strategy to divert your mind from the craving â€“ for instance, chewing some gum, taking a shower or calling a friend.
Use relaxation techniques
When you feel a craving try this: sit up straight, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Hold your breath for a moment and breathe out, relaxing the muscles in your body. Repeat ten times.
Get your friends and family to help
If someone you know is also trying to quit, why not use each other as inspiration. You can also get support and advice from NHS clinics, pharmacists and practice nurses in your area.
Cravings don't last forever
The strength and frequency of cravings will gradually subside â€“ and may well disappear in three to four weeks. So, remember, if you're tempted to smoke, try and stick it out because the urge will pass.
Patches from Â£5.79
Gum from Â£5.69
Lozenges from Â£3.99
Quickmist from Â£8.98
Microtab from Â£7.15
Inhalator from Â£6.99
The products below are all recommended by our pharmacists to help you give up smoking:
Tip: Don't forget, if you need help giving up, there's a free Stop Smoking service in most Lloydspharmacy stores.
Drink less and feel good
If you drink too much alcohol you can damage your heart, raise your blood pressure and put on weight. The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine). In addition women should not exceed 14 units a week and men should not exceed 21 units.. Alcohol has a wide range of ill-effects when consumed in excessive amounts:
Alcohol and sleep
While alcohol can help you fall asleep it actually reduces your quality of sleep and even after a long sleep you can still feel fatigued. Alcohol also works as a diuretic so you will wake earlier needing the bathroom.
It affects your blood sugar
Alcohol causes low blood sugar levels and dehydration, leading to an increase in appetite and the classic 'binge eating' that happens at the end of a heavy drinking session.
Itâ€™s high in calories
It has a high calorific value, which is why it contributes to weight gain. Did you know that a glass of wine has the same calories as a slice of cake? How about a pint of lager â€“ surprised to hear itâ€™s the calorific equivalent of a burger? Being high in sugar means alcohol contains lots of calories â€“ seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat!
It increases the risk of poor health
Drinking too much on a regular and sustained basis has been linked to high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers. These risks increase for drinkers who smoke.
Ask one of our doctors a question online or book an appointment to speak to a doctor on the telephone, via Skype from home or your mobile
The products below are recommended by our team of pharmacists for helping you to live a healthy life:
Drink less and feel good
Staying fit is incredibly important for keeping your blood pressure down.
If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should think about how you can add extra exercise to your daily routine.
Maybe you could get off the bus a stop early or take the stairs in the office rather than the lift? You'll be amazed by what a difference these seemingly small steps can make.
And your heart will love you for it.
However, if you are unused to exercise it is important to start slowly, gradually increasing your activity levels. If you have any medical conditions speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise regime.