Get 2020 off to a heart healthy start

By June Shannon Heart News   |   2nd Jan 2020

Head of Health Promotion, Information and Training at the Irish Heart Foundation and registered dietitian, Janis Morrissey shares her top tips for a heart healthy 2020.

When it comes to new year’s resolutions it might be tempting to make drastic changes to your lifestyle but in fact small steps will be more achievable and sustainable.

Take a step back, look at your lifestyle and decide what’s important to you. Do you want to eat healthier or give up smoking, get active or drink less alcohol? Plan for what changes you would like to make and work out what supports you need. What could stop you achieving your goal and what can you do to minimise those barriers to success?

Here are the top things we recommend for a heart-healthy start to 2020:


Healthy Eating

Keep your focus on the habits you want to change rather than on an ‘all or nothing’ approach. So rather than thinking about all the foods you feel you must give up or go without, why not see the new year as a time to embrace a whole new way of eating healthily for the good of your heart.


When it comes to maintaining a heart-healthy diet, remember that alcohol is high in sugar and calories and drinking more than the recommended amount can be harmful to your heart. For women, the recommended maximum limit is 11 standard drinks a week and for men it is 17 standard drinks a week. A standard drink is half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.

Being active

Recent Irish research found that less than half of adults are meeting that national guidelines for physical activity, leaving them at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers. All it takes is 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days a week to keep your heart healthy. It can be difficult to find an extra half an hour in our busy days, but two 15-minute brisk walks will give the same benefit to your heart as one 30-minute session.



Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for heart health. In fact, the World Health Organisation has said that poor sleep should be considered a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Sleep issues, especially not sleeping enough, obstructive sleep apnoea (five or more pauses in breathing per hour of sleep) and insomnia can influence the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease and overall cardiovascular disease.


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