Survey highlights nation's lack of awareness about heart disease

29 September 2014        

Know your heart poster

A new poll suggests thousands of UK adults are risking their heart health because they don’t know the warning signs for coronary heart disease (CHD).

The British Heart Foundation surveyed over 2,000 people and found only 2% were afraid of developing coronary heart disease, even though it is the UK’s single biggest killer.

The survey found nine out of ten people (90%) wrongly believe high blood pressure comes with symptoms. Considered as the “silent killer”, it can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke but has no side effects. The BHF now estimates up to seven million people are walking around with undiagnosed high blood pressure and don’t know it.

Almost one in five people (19%) surveyed didn’t know CHD can be caused by smoking, while more than one in three people (34%) didn’t know it can cause a stroke.

Half of adults (50%) don’t realise having diabetes can increase your risk of CHD. One in ten adults (10%) also confessed to not knowing how to look after their hearts.

Coronary heart disease kills 73,000 people a year – on average one every seven minutes.

Dr Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, said: “Your heart is the most vital organ in your body, but all too often we take it for granted. Despite being a largely preventable condition, coronary heart disease is still the UK’s single biggest killer, causing unnecessary heartache for thousands of families.

“By taking control of your heart health and following our top 10 tips this World Heart Day you can invest in and enjoy your future health and life.”

Learn more about the risk factors for coronary heart disease. 

Kick-start a heart healthier lifestyle

The BHF is urging everyone to follow their top 10 tips to lead a heart healthier lifestyle this World Heart Day (Monday 29th September) and protect against this debilitating illness.

  • Give up smoking.

    Stopping smoking is the single best thing you could do to improve your heart health. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers.

  • If you’re over 40, take up your free NHS health check.

    This mid-life MOT will assess your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar and whether your smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise could be impacting your heart.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

    Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of getting diabetes, having high blood pressure and high cholesterol – three key risk factors for coronary heart disease.

  • Lead an active lifestyle

    Keeping physically active can help you maintain a strong and healthy heart. It can also help you keep your weight and blood pressure in check.

  • Ditch the salt

    Having too much can make us more likely to develop high blood pressure. Try flavouring your food with pepper, herbs, garlic, spices or lemon juice instead as a way to cut down.

  • Eat your 5-a-day

    A well-balanced diet should include 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. These can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned. Try adding fruit to your breakfast cereal, having tinned fruit for dessert or keeping a fruit in your bag as a healthy snack to help boost your intake.

  • Cut the saturated fat

    Eating too much saturated fat can cause high cholesterol putting you at greater risk of coronary heart disease. Make small changes like swapping full-fat milk for skimmed, steaming and grilling food instead of frying, and choosing lean meats to reduce your saturated fat intake.

  • Always read the food labels

    Reading food labels can be a quick and easy way to find out if something is healthy for you.

  • Don’t drink too much

    Drinking too much can increase your risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure and having a stroke.

  • Watch your portion sizes

    Looks can be deceiving when it comes to food. Knowing and controlling your portion sizes can help you maintain a healthy weight.