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Today is World Heart Day, a global initiative to increase awareness of the prevalence and risks of cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions that end up taking the lives of thousands of people every day of the year.

Heart disease is one of the most pervasive diseases affecting people all around the world today. Around the world, 17.3 million people die of cardiovascular disease every year. That’s more than 4 times as many deaths than result from malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined. While infectious diseases such as these seem more dramatic and dangerous, leaps forward in medicine have lessened their overall worldwide impact. However, heart disease remains the largest killer by far.

And it’s a myth that heart disease generally only affects older, affluent, male populations. The truth is that CVD can affect all ages and population groups, including women and even young children.

To bring home how susceptible almost anyone can be to CVD, around 1 million children are born each year worldwide with some kind of congenital heart defect. And heart disease causes 1 in 3 female deaths each year. So it is vital that everyone, even the young, know the importance of maintaining heart health. Here are some ways you can keep your heart healthy and strong throughout your life.

1. Let’s get physical

You know the magic number: 30.

30 minutes of activity a day is the best way to help prevent cardiovascular conditions in older age and will help prevent heart attacks and strokes. And being active doesn’t always mean running 10 miles a day. (Although, if you want to run 10 miles a day, go ahead. Also, you’re insane.) It could mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing an extra-heavy shop and walking home with it, or vigorously doing some household chores.

2. Ditch the cigs

C’mon, now.

Seriously.

If you stop smoking, your risk of coronary disease will be halved within a year. And that’s just one reason.

3. Your mother knew best: eat your vegetables

Yeah, you always hated it when she said it, and part of you hoped you could eat Curly Wurlies for dinner when you were 40, but deep down you knew those gross vegetables were good for you.

Eat lots of fruits and veggies , along with whole grains, lean meat, fish, peas, beans, lentils and foods low in fat. While you’re at it, avoid salty and processed foods.

4. Shake off those pounds

Shake ‘em off.

I always knew Taylor Swift had good advice.

Keeping yourself at a good weight based on your body-mass index and avoiding salty foods will severely lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

5. You gotta get your body’s numbers

No one likes numbers, but get over it. Burn into your brain your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, check them regularly and keep reminding yourself where you want them.

6. Stay vigilant

A heart attack or a stroke can pop out from around the nearest corner like your neighbourhood flasher. And it can be just as unpleasant.

Learn the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke and seek assistance as soon as possible, since early detection is a sure way to make a full recovery afterwards.

7. Easy on the meds

No more dropping whole bottles down the drain. Take the medication your doctor gives you and be sure to stick to the regimen.

8. Pat yourself on the back

Hey, we all slip up now and then. But it’s important to track your progress and reward yourself for jobs well done. You’re maintaining your own health and the future of your family. That’s no small feat.

TQUK is doing what it can to promote heart health by providing and promoting as many health-based qualifications as possible. We want to get trained professionals into the world to help people with these conditions. We also work with charities like Hand and Heart and businesses like Defibshop to promote public access to defibrillators to ensure individuals who have sudden cardiac episodes have the assistance they need.

To keep up with TQUK’s latest news and incisive commentary on the FE sector, return to our blog, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

See you out there!