Reboot Your Life – Get active for a healthy heart

By June Shannon Heart News   |   8th Sep 2021

New expert guidance on ways to prevent heart disease and stroke recommend reduced sitting time for the first time

For the very first time the importance of reducing sitting time has been included in new guidelines from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), on ways to avoid heart disease and stroke.

Published recently, the new ESC Guidelines on cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention in clinical practice, state that as much as 90 per cent of the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can be explained by smoking, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, raised blood lipid or cholesterol levels, diabetes, psychosocial factors, or alcohol.

These guidelines focus on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD), which affects the arteries. As the inside of the arteries become clogged up by fatty deposits, they can no longer supply enough blood to the body. This process is the main cause of heart attacks, strokes, PAD and sudden death where arteries become completely blocked.

The most important way to prevent these conditions is to adopt a healthy lifestyle throughout life, especially not smoking, and to treat risk factors, according to the ESC.

A significant percentage of the worldwide population shows high levels of sitting time and physical inactivity.

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The ESC Guidelines include recommendations for healthy adults of all ages, as well as patients with established CVD or diabetes. Identifying who will benefit most from preventive treatments, such as blood pressure and cholesterol lowering therapies, is central to prevention efforts and therefore the estimation of CVD risk is the cornerstone of the guidelines.

Regarding exercise, it is recommended that adults of all ages should strive for at least 150−300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75−150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity, aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination.

For the first time the guidelines recommend that people aim to reduce their sitting time and engage in at least light activity throughout the day.

A significant percentage of the worldwide population, in particular the European population, shows high levels of sitting time and physical inactivity.

Also new is to consider wearable activity trackers to increase activity. The guidelines state: “Most important is to encourage activity that people enjoy and/or can include in their daily routines, as such activities are more likely to be sustainable.”

" We know that exercise is good for our heart health but awareness around the dangers of sitting for long periods of time is not so well known,"

Tara Curran, Physical Activity Coordinator, The Irish Heart Foundation

The Irish Heart Foundation has long highlighted the risks associated with increased sitting time and heart disease and stroke and has worked to increase awareness of this risk factor through a number of public health awareness campaigns such as Escape Your Chair.

Welcoming the inclusion of the recommendation to reduce sitting time in the new ESC Guidelines Tara Curran, Physical Activity Coordinator with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “I am delighted to see the new ESC Guidelines specifically mention long periods of sitting time  as a risk factor for CVD.  We know that exercise is good for our heart health but awareness around the dangers of sitting for long periods of time is not so well known.

“The Irish Heart Foundation has actively been raising awareness of the dangers of excess sitting time for the past four years through our Heart Month campaigns. We have developed a range of resources such as our Sitting Time Calculator, Be Active Leaflet and Escape your Chair Challenge to help empower people to get more movement throughout their day.  Not just from physical activity, but from breaking up sitting time with regular movement breaks.”

This year’s Irish Heart Foundation Heart Month campaign is called ‘Reboot Your Life’. It is supported by the HSE and Rugby Players Ireland and runs throughout the month of September.

The campaign calls on men to sign up to Reboot their life and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. They can access heart health information, download a helpful booklet, assess their lifestyle through a quiz, and receive emails with tips and tricks on how to include more movement, or eat healthier throughout September.

Visit the  Reboot Your Life campaign here and find out  how men can make small changes for a healthier heart and future.

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Related Topics

cardiovascular disease heart disease prevention Reboot your Life sedentary behaviour sitting time stroke

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