Eating a healthy diet is essential to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It may also stop your angina from getting any worse.
A balanced diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables and fibre, with fewer foods that are high in saturated fat, is extremely important if you have heart disease. Reducing your blood cholesterol is also necessary, which you can achieve by limiting the amount of foods you eat that contain saturated fats. These foods cause harmful types of cholesterol which create a build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries. Saturated fats are found in:
• Dairy e.g. butter, ghee, lard, cream
• Fatty meats e.g. sausages
• Cheeses – especially hard cheese
• Sweet foods e.g. biscuits, cakes, chocolate
• Some oils e.g. palm oil and coconut oil
Increasing the amount of ‘good fats’ in your diet can actually help lower your cholesterol. These can be found in:
• Olive oil, rapeseed oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil
Reducing your salt intake is also important because this will help lower your blood pressure. Remember that pre-packaged foods such as soups, ready meals, sandwiches, all contain salt at fairly high levels. Reducing your alcohol consumption is also highly recommended if you have been given an angina diagnosis.
If you need more advice or encouragement to follow a healthier diet for angina, speak to your GP. You may also like to learn more about eating ‘5 a day’ on the NHS Live Well site.
Exercise for angina
Regular exercise is really important for everyone in order to lower the risk of developing heart disease and angina. Exercise makes the heart stronger so it can pump more blood through the body. It also reduces the levels of bad cholesterol that cause fatty build-up in the arteries.
If you have been given an angina diagnosis, it is even more important to exercise in order to reduce any further damage to the heart, lower your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure.
You should look to undertake an activity which increases your heart rate such as walking, cycling, swimming or jogging. There are many other small changes you can make to increase your exercise levels through the day, for example:
• Walk to the shops instead of driving
• Take the stairs instead of the lift
• Play with your children or grandchildren
Exercising for 30 minutes each day is enough to help reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. Splitting the 30 minutes into 3 x 10 minute sessions is a great starting point, building up to longer sessions. Exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose weight, which reduces the strain on your heart.
If you are unsure about how to begin an angina exercise regime or if exercise is one of your angina triggers, speak to your GP who will be able to refer you to a physiotherapist. He or she will be able to develop a program of exercise specifically for you, taking into account your angina symptoms.
The British Heart Foundation website offers advice and guidance on staying active and even includes a simple guide to exercises for angina.
Smoking and angina
If you are a smoker who has been diagnosed with angina, one of the essential things you must do is to give up the cigarettes.
Smoking damages the lining of your arteries which leads to narrowing, therefore causing angina. Smoking also increases adrenaline and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood – which all puts the heart under more pressure to work harder.
It is never too late to stop, and there is an abundance of help and support available to you. Speak to your GP or NHS Stop Smoking advisor who can help you.
The NHS also offers 10 online tips on how you can stop smoking which we encourage you to take a look at.
Angina and employment
Many people who have received a diagnosis of angina, continue to work. Some people will choose to change jobs, retrain, or work fewer hours with less stress. Everyone is different and you will decide what is best for you. If you are unsure about whether or not you can continue working with angina, speak to your GP and cardiologist. You may also wish to discuss your role and tasks with your employer or occupational health adviser.
At NRS Healthcare, we offer a huge range of equipment that can help those who are older, or have a health condition, live more independently. Below you’ll find some of our most popular products which can help relieve some of the symptoms of angina and enable those living with the condition to do more things for themselves – whether at home or when out and about.
Did you know... "Many things can cause angina, including smoking, fatty diets and lack of exercise."