Ten expert tips to keep your heart healthy

Heart disease stands as the leading global cause of mortality, as affirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Fortunately, it is also among the most preventable conditions. Irrespective of age, adopting a healthy lifestyle—embracing physical activity, nutritious eating, and mental well-being—can significantly diminish the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Rakesh Sharma, Consultant Cardiologist at Cromwell Hospital, underscores the importance of nurturing this vital organ: “Your heart is a crucial organ, and it’s imperative that you take care of it. While following these tips for heart health serves as a commendable start, if you harbor any concerns, consulting with your doctor is essential.”

In this blog, we compile ten expert tips to guide you in safeguarding your heart. These recommendations need not be overwhelming; the gradual incorporation of small steps can pave the way for substantial enhancements in your overall health.


Discover the path to a healthier heart with insights from our experts at Cromwell Hospital, a renowned Heart Hospital in London, where your cardiovascular well-being is our top priority. Your journey to heart health begins here.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

  1. Move your body

Sitting for long hours working at a computer or desk, and then collapsing onto a sofa at the end of the day, is damaging our health. In fact, the British Heart Foundation estimates that one in six deaths in the UK is caused by physical inactivity. It’s clear: to keep our hearts healthy, we need to move our bodies more. The government recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. That’s about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It could be walking, running, cycling, sport, housework or gardening – anything that gets you moderately out of breath.

It’s worth it. Keeping physically active lowers your blood pressure, stops fatty material building up in your arteries, helps you manage your weight, and reduces your risk of heart disease by up to 35%.

Fitness Class
  1. Focus on daily movement

The best way to increase your physical activity – and crucially, to sustain it over time – is to make it part of your daily routine. Walk or cycle to work if you can. Or take public transport. You’ll be amazed how many steps you notch up walking to and from the station. At lunch, make sure you take a break from your desk, especially if you’re working from home. Get outside, walk around the block or your favourite nearby park. Even 15 minutes walking each lunchtime will make a difference. 

  1. Get your heart racing

Once you’ve banked your daily activity, it’s time to add interest with more intensive exercise (if you have a history of heart problems, then it’s best to check with your doctor first). That means doing something that gets your heart racing and makes it hard to talk without pausing for breath. Aim to do this at least once or twice a week. Join your local parkrun or take the plunge at your local lido, flex it in Zumba, play tennis, box or hit the gym. If you haven’t exercised for a while, your local gym will offer classes tailored for you. Find an activity you enjoy, so that you stick at it.

  1. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet

Food fads come and go. But for years now, experts have agreed that the Mediterranean diet – plenty of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oils, grains, pulses and small amounts of meat – is one of the healthiest ways to eat. It’s why people in parts of Greece and Italy live such long and healthy lives. No doubt the sunshine and azure seas help too. Other healthy food cultures are found in Japan, the Nordic countries and West Africa. The ingredients and flavours vary, but these diets are all rich in whole foods, plants and fibre, and low in added sugar, trans fats and processed meats.

  1. Prepare food healthily

Of course, it’s not just what you eat, it’s how you prepare it. Our brains are evolutionarily hardwired to reward us for energy-rich foods, giving us a welcome dopamine hit after eating them. That’s fine if you spend your day hunting for food or labouring in fields to grow it; you’ll need the energy. It’s not so good if you sit at a desk and only forage in Waitrose. So, when you’re cooking, add less oil and butter, avoid deep frying, and opt for grilling, healthy roasts, boiling, steaming or stewing instead.

  1. Hold the salt

Sodium in salt is linked to high blood pressure, which increases your chances of heart disease and stroke. While we need a certain amount of salt in our diets – the NHS recommends 6g a day, or about a teaspoon, most of us are eating quite a bit more. That’s because a lot of the foods we buy – cereals, bread, readymade sauces, stock cubes, processed meat and snacks – contain high amounts of salt, as it’s an easy way to add flavour. So, check the nutritional labels on pre-packaged food and look for foods low in salt (coded green). And hold the salt at the table. Your food might taste a little bland at first, but your taste buds will soon adjust. Your heart will thank you for it.              

  1. Drink alcohol in moderation

Like salt, drinking too much alcohol also raises your blood pressure. Many alcoholic drinks, including wine and beer, are high in calories too. This can lead to you putting on weight and developing obesity, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease. So, enjoy drinking within the recommended guidelines – no more than 14 units a week for men and women. That’s about six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine. And be sceptical about any stories your read on the health benefits of some alcoholic drinks. You won’t find any doctors or dieticians recommending you take up drinking. 

  1. Get some good-quality sleep

Recently there has been a growing interest in the science of sleep. No wonder. Our busy lives, and the endless glow of our smartphones and tablets, means that many of us aren’t getting enough. The NHS says most of us need between seven and nine hours a night. If you’re getting less, or your sleep is disturbed through the night, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure. You’re also more likely to use sugary foods and caffeine boosts to get you through the day. This raises your risk for high blood pressure and also developing obesity. So, practice good sleep hygiene and try to get your head down between 10-11pm, as research has shown this is an optimal bedtime for heart health.        

  1. And relax….

Stress in itself doesn’t cause heart problems, any raising of blood pressure is temporary. And it can be very useful, motivating us to overcome problems or hit targets. But chronic stress – that is with you all the time – can lead to unhealthy decisions, like turning to unhealthy comfort food, drinking more, exercising less or smoking. It can also damage your mental health, which will impact on your physical health. So it’s important to find ways to relax. Try meditation or mindfulness, both of which can lower blood pressure. Or listen to music, spend time with friends, exercise or get into nature.

  1. Make the changes last

The importance of mindset cannot be overstated. While it may seem challenging to find time for exercise or view it as a hassle, recognising it as a fundamental aspect of life crucial for both physical and mental health makes prioritisation easier. Psychiatrists at Maudsley Learning emphasize the power of habit in sustaining changes. Integrating activities into your routine increases the likelihood of consistent commitment. Over time, these practices become part of your identity, serving as a motivating force. For instance, identifying as “a healthy eater” enhances the likelihood of choosing nutritious foods during your weekly shopping.

At Cromwell Hospital, a leading Heart Hospital in London, we understand the significance of mindset in heart health. Whether it’s incorporating regular exercise, monitoring your heart with a Hospital Heart Monitor, or consulting with a specialised Heart Surgeon for procedures like Heart Bypass Surgery or Open-Heart Surgery, we encourage a positive mindset. Be kind to yourself, use setbacks as opportunities for self-understanding, and persist in your journey toward a healthier heart.

Visit our heart and lung centre today.

Why Choose Us?

At Cromwell Hospital, we redefine cardiovascular care with a commitment to your heart health. Here’s why you should choose us for your cardiac well-being:

  1. Expertise in Heart Health: Benefit from the insights of our skilled medical professionals, including experienced Heart Surgeons, ensuring the highest standard of care.
  2. Comprehensive Heart Services: From routine check-ups to complex procedures like Heart Bypass Surgery and Open-Heart Surgery, we offer a full spectrum of cardiac services under one roof.
  3. Cutting-Edge Facilities: Our state-of-the-art facilities feature advanced technology for precise diagnostics, monitoring, and innovative treatments, ensuring the best possible outcomes.
  4. Patient-Centric Approach: Your unique needs and concerns are our top priority. Experience personalised care tailored to your individual heart health requirements.

Choose Cromwell Hospital for excellence in heart care. Trust us to be your partner in maintaining a healthy heart, providing expertise, advanced technology, and a patient-focused approach for your cardiovascular well-being.

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