News & Insights 15 February 2023

National Heart Month – you can improve your heart health this February!

February is National Heart Month, dedicated to raising awareness about a range of heart conditions and, therefore, emphasising the importance of keeping our hearts healthy.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s biggest killer. In 2016 alone, a staggering 17.9 million people lost their lives as a result of CVD, representing 31% of all global deaths (WHO, 2021). In addition, it is estimated that 7.4 million individuals are currently living with CVD in the UK.

The 4 main types of CVD are:

Coronary heart disease (CHD): refers to when the blood supply to the heart is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances (atheroma) in the coronary arteries. Narrowing of the coronary arteries due to a build-up of atheroma can cause angina (chest pains). However, a heart attack can occur if a coronary artery becomes completely blocked.

Stroke: refers to when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed. The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST which stands for:

  • Face – the face may have drooped on one side
  • Arms – unable to lift one’s arm and keep it raised
  • Speech – may be absent or appear slurred.
  • Time – strokes require urgent treatment, therefore 999 should be dialled immediately if any of these signs or symptoms are present

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): occurs when there is a blockage in the arteries to the limbs. Many people with PAD have no symptoms, some develop a dull pain in thighs, hips or calves and often worsens when walking.

Aortic disease: refers to diseases associated with the largest blood vessel in the body. The most common type of aortic disease is an aortic aneurysm, which is where the wall of the aorta becomes weakened and bulges outwards, resulting in chest, back or stomach pain.

There are a variety of risk factors that may contribute to the development of CVD, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can be influenced by both our genetics and lifestyle choices. Surprisingly, it is estimated that over 30% of adults with high blood pressure aren’t aware they have it. The good news is that many of these risk factors are modifiable and, thus, largely in our control. By understanding the factors contributing to CVD risk, we can be empowered to make positive lifestyle changes to benefit our heart health.

Prioritizing physical activity is among the best things you can do for your heart (Li & Siegrist, 2012). For some, physical activity sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be! Physical activity simply refers to any bodily movement that requires energy expenditure (WHO, 2022). So, physical activity includes everyday activities too, such as washing the car, ironing or just walking to work.

Physical activity doesn’t need to be vigorous because all intensities of movement can impact CVD risk (Tanasescu, 2002). Finding physical activity that you feel is enjoyable and sustainable holds the key. There is a type of physical activity for us all!

One of our clients illustrated this understanding, a 59-year-old male, demonstrating that physical activity can also be used to manage CVD after experiencing a heart attack.

“KiActiv® has been the catalyst for changing my daily life from a sedentary state to a
significantly more active lifestyle. I recommend KiActiv® to all those who want to improve
personal well-being and personal satisfaction.

I couldn’t have done this alone, enjoying the initial support and personalised programme, along
with ongoing encouragement to help me understand my activity data. Reviewing my progress
is motivating. Cold and wet days can still be active days around the house.

I have changed my life to enjoy adding more vigour to those routine household
chores such as ironing, gardening, hoovering, washing the kitchen floor. All have had a positive impact for my active lifestyle.

Everyone can achieve a more active lifestyle with little need for more strenuous exercise. Just getting out of your chair every fifteen minutes is a step forward.”

KiActiv® Health aims to provide you with the knowledge to use physical activity as a tool to self-manage your health and well-being. Our role is to help you identify the different types of movement happening during your day, their intensity and how they make you feel. This information can help you to make informed decisions about managing your physical activity levels in the context of your health and capacity.

If you would like to learn more about optimising your everyday physical activity to protect against CVD or to self-manage a long-term heart condition, click here to take action.

The KiActiv® Team