Many adults in the UK are unaware of the risk factors of heart disease.
The British Heart Foundation conducted a survey in 2014 and found that only 2% of people are afraid of getting Coronary Heart disease. The majority of people are more afraid of getting Dementia or Cancer.
Within the UK, approximately 160,000 people die every year from heart and circulatory diseases including Coronary Heart disease, Cardiovascular disease, and Strokes.
These conditions usually happen when cholesterol accumulates on the artery walls, it then creates plaque which makes the arteries narrow. This then reduces the blood flow to the heart. Sometimes, a clot can obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle. Which then results in a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke occurring.
In 2015, it was identified by the Public Health Agency, that Coronary Heart disease kills more men in England than any other condition, with 14.2% of males dying from this condition. It also is the second most common cause of death in females, resulting in 8.8% of deaths being related to this condition.
Deanna Balmer, 68, from Ballymoney has recently been diagnosed with Coronary Heart disease and is afraid that this condition may kill her.
Speaking directly, Deanna said, “Living with a heart condition is really difficult. I hate being ill. I hate not being active. I can’t even go to the shop as I can’t drive in case I would take another heart attack. It really is hard”. Deanna who is normally a fit and healthy 68-year-old woman, suggested that her life has completely changed from having her first heart attack in 2007.
She continued, “I am really depressed, and I hate the thought having to go for more tests, or procedures to reduce my likelihood of dying; I am scared, but I know the doctors and nurses are only doing these procedures to try to improve my life expectancy”.
Deanna is so frustrated because she been admitted to the Causeway hospital four times in the last three months with her heart condition. She currently attends a practice in the Coronary Care Unit in Causeway hospital.
She has been experiencing heart problems for numerous months, but when the pain strikes she finds it intolerable. Due to the overpowering pain, she is now waiting to have surgery.
Teresa McSeveney, who was one of Deanna’s main carers had to give up her full-time job role. This was because her husband has also heart problems; he recently took a heart attack.
Speaking directly from her family home, Teresa explains how her life has changed since becoming her husband’s main carer.
Although, Teresa has admitted that it can be difficult caring for someone who has a heart problem, her husband and herself still enjoying their lives; as best they can.
Statistics from the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke association show that 40% of all adults within our small population have a Coronary Heart Condition. In figures this is 206,062 people. This means that there are 16 deaths per day. Someone dies from a heart attack every six minutes, that’s 10 people every hour.
Nurse urges the public to be vigilant
Sharon Osborne, who is a staff nurse at Ballymoney Health Centre, is urging the public to be vigilant to any symptoms they may have of a heart condition.
She said, “Although some heart conditions are hereditary, I would encourage people to be vigilant to the symptoms and get regular check-ups with a GP as early intervention can reduce serious problems”.
She continued, “The heart is an involuntary muscle that takes deoxygenated blood and pumps it to the lungs, so they get oxygen – it then pumps the blood around the body. A good strong heart is needed to sustain life. I urge people to help themselves reduce the risk of ill cardiac health by making changes to their lifestyle. For example, giving up smoking, reducing the fatty substances put into the body and exercising. All these factors can contribute to reducing the risk of cardiac conditions arising. It can be easy to reduce cardiac heart conditions if the individual is willing to make changes to their lifestyle”.
Within Great Britain 21% of the population smoke. This means that they have a 60% greater chance of dying from Heart Disease than a non-smoker. Another factor for triggering Heart Disease is Obesity. One quarter of the population are obese. Shockingly, 30% of that quarter are young boys and girls aged between 2-15 years.
Natashia Graham, a mum of two from the Antrim area recently received a visit from the local health visitor. She was told that her baby weighed in at 3lb (pounds) heavier than the recommended guidelines. Natashia was devastated by this news. She said that she finds it hard to deprive her child of a fruit shoot, or a packet of skips, now and again.
She continued, “Sometimes I give my baby food to keep her content on a long drive. I will stop this; I do not want my baby to become obese”.
If the baby continues to gain weight the health visitor has warned that precautions will have to be taken such as putting the child on a diet.
Precautions are already being carried out in Ballymoney Health centre for obese adults. Doctors are providing patients with gym memberships for 6 weeks. This means that patients can go and burn calories which will help them lose weight. This idea was adopted from England. Along with this, doctors will be providing patients with a diet plan to encourage them to eat a little healthier.
Doctors in the Ballymoney area have adopted this idea because in 2013, Ballymoney was ranked number two in the top 10 places in the UK for poor heart health. Along with this, Ards and Moyle areas were seventh and eighth.
In addition, Ballymoney residents are more than three times likely to die from a heart condition than those in London.
This information has been founded as The British Heart Foundation has conducted research to try to make the public aware of how easy a heart condition can develop. This local charity goes through everyday challenges of raising funds to support people in the community with a heart condition. This charity is based in England and Wales, however, it has over 300 affiliated Heart Support Groups across the United Kingdom. The charity describes their groups as a way of bringing “hope, happiness and support” to individuals so that they can achieve a healthier lifestyle.
David Dickie, a local Ballymoney man has been a fund raiser for The British Heart Foundation, since 2010. He was influenced to raise funds for this organisation because he had a heart attack in 2008; this organisation helped him overcome it.
Since beginning to fund raise, David has raised approximately £10,000. This money has been collected through bike rides, coffee mornings, concerts and he sat in a bath and got cold beans poured over him.
David said, “This organisation is very close to my heart. The money collected helps fund British Heart Foundation nurses and funds further research into heart problems alongside Queens University, Belfast. This organisation helps spread awareness around the community; I would have been lost without it”.
Across the UK, there are many members of the public fundraising for the British Heart Foundation and because the this, there is more awareness being created. Although, the number of patients with a heart conditions are decreasing, it is not rapidly enough. Statistics from the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke association show that in 2015, 40% of all adults within our small population had a Coronary Heart condition. In figures this is 206,062 people. This means that there are 16 deaths per day. Someone dies from a heart attack every six minutes, that’s 10 people every hour.
Considering the eat-well plate
Mark Kane, a qualified Level 3 Fitness Instructor has recognised that heart problems have serious consequences on lives. Due to this, he is encouraging the public to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to reduce the likelihood of a heart condition occurring.
Speaking directly, Mark has suggested that each person should be using the eat-well plate and sticking to a healthy balanced diet, along with exercise.
He continued, “Light exercise, such a walk on the treadmill will strengthen the heart; 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week in the gym would make the biggest different to someone’s life. It does not have to be a high intensive work out, just enough to keep the body fat down. If people exercise and change their unhealthy habits; it may add five or ten years onto their lives”.