Every four hours a life is lost to heart or circulatory disease in the Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset NHS area.
NHS bosses say the figure from the British Heart Foundation highlights the urgent need for greater awareness of the killer condition, and the steps local people can take to keep the disease at bay.
Heart disease occurs when a person’s arteries become so blocked with fatty substances that maintaining a steady blood flow to and from one of the body’s most vital organs becomes challenging.
The condition can be diagnosed through a variety of different tests, but people who regularly suffer with chest pain and shortness of breath, as well as with feelings of nausea and light-headedness, are advised to speak to their GP.
Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “In our region, more than 110,000 people are living with heart or circulatory disease, and it’s almost certain that thousands of others remain undiagnosed.
“It’s not just the people who regularly experience symptoms who need to be cautious, we should all be doing whatever we can to stay heart-healthy.
“Eating a balanced diet, preferably one which is low in harmful saturated fats, cutting back on alcohol, upping activity levels and quitting smoking for good can have an almost instant impact on wellbeing, as can monitoring and maintaining a healthy blood pressure level.”
The Know Your Numbers campaign has recently been encouraging people over the age of 40 to get acquainted with their blood pressure level, as knowing if it is high, low or sitting at a healthy level can often be the catalyst for wanting to make effective lifestyle changes.
As high blood pressure has no visible symptoms, those who are at risk of heart disease are strongly advised to get their levels checked, with most local pharmacies now offering this free service.
In most people, heart and circulatory disease, as well as high blood pressure, are brought on by lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and not getting enough exercise.
Additional data from the British Heart Foundation shows that in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, more than a quarter of adults (27 per cent) are obese, while a further 28 per cent are worryingly inactive.
Ruth Goss, British Heart Foundation’s Senior Cardiac Nurse, said: “There are lots of simple things people can do to build healthy habits, such as getting off the bus a stop early or switching the oil used in everyday cooking.
“Small changes like these can really add up over time and will help people to live longer and healthier lives.”
Twelve per cent of adults in the region are also regular smokers, which not only increases the risk of heart disease, but raises the likelihood of having a stroke and developing many types of cancer.
The NHS website, which can be found at www.nhs.uk, contains a variety of useful resources on how to become heart-healthy, such as exercise guides and nutrition plans, as well as everything needed to quit smoking during next month’s Stoptober event.
Additional information on local health and care services, along with links to local stop smoking support services, can be found at www.bswtogether.org.uk/yourhealth.
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