News that comedian Bob Mortimer has undergone triple heart bypass surgery yesterday will no doubt shock many of his fans. At just 56 he looks the peak of health and I should imagine had no idea his heart was under strain. Looking at the list of dates he has had to cancel shows he was planning a tough schedule of work over the next couple of months, so I presume he felt he was in good enough shape to take that on and was looking forward to his tour.
I’m sure we all wish him well and will hope for a speedy recovery but I thought the news was also an opportunity to remind ourselves that heart disease is still the number one killer in the UK. Do you know the health of your heart and what you can do to help yourself stay out of the coronary care unit?
Here are my top tips
- If you are over 40 (or younger if you have a family history of heart disease) – make sure you know your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Measure your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is your weight in kilos divided by the square of your height in metres. It should be 18.5 – 25 (23 if you are of Asian descent). If it is greater than this you are at increased risk of health problems including heart disease so now is the time to get yourself in check.
- Measure you waist. Your waist is half way between the bottom of your rib cage and your hip bone. No cheating! I have met far too many people wearing 34 inch waist trousers below a 44 inch waist! If you are a man and your waist is greater than 37 inches (35 inches is your are Asian) and if you are a woman with a waist greater than 31.5 inches you are at risk and you need to act
- Give up smoking – there is so much help out there now and we know that your chances of success are greater with support so talk to your GP surgery about local smoking cessation services.
- Watch you fat intake – only a third of your total daily calorie intake should come from fat and of those only a third should come from trans fat or saturated fats.
- Up your exercise – 80% of British adults do not achieve the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. That is only half an hour a day. We can all find that time if we really want to and it could save your life. It doesn’t have to be a fancy gym – a brisk walk around the block or a skipping rope in the garden is all you need.
- Watch your alcohol – current recommendations are that men should drink no more than 21 units a week and women no more than 14 and make sure you factor in at least two dry days a week.
Here’s to looking after our hearts and wishing Bob a speedy recovery.