Heart disease in men: 6 lifestyle changes to lower your risk

Heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer, but you have the power to significantly reduce your chances of developing it.

In the UK, 1 in 6 men die as a result of heart disease. 1.4 million men are living with it and around 110,000 suffer heart attacks each year. While you can’t control things like family history or age – there are many things you can.

Don’t smoke

You’re twice as likely to have a heart attack if you smoke. Despite the well known fact that smoking is terrible for your health, many still keep up the habit. Chemicals in the tobacco and the carbon monoxide produced when smoking narrow the arteries and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can dramatically increase the risk of blood clots and heart attacks. By quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease drops almost to that of a non-smoker in about five years.

Exercise and be more active

Staying active is great for keeping your heart healthy. Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can drastically improve your health.

Eat well

A healthy diet and a sensible approach to alcohol can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Only a quarter of adults regularly eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and over a third of men regularly exceed the recommended limits for alcohol intake. Conditions that lead to heart disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes can all be influenced by your diet. Check out our guide to help eat your way to a healthier heart.

Stay in shape

Being overweight, especially if you carry excess weight around your middle, increases your risk of heart disease. Excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Get checked

Over a quarter of UK adults have high blood pressure but as many as half of them don't get treatment for the condition. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. Without testing for them, you probably won't know whether you have these conditions. Get a health check or see your GP to run the tests and discover the shape you’re really in.

Get a good night's sleep

Sleep deprivation can seriously harm your health. If you don't get enough sleep you will have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night however some people can feel perfectly rested with less. If you're someone who is constantly reaching for the snooze button and it's a struggle to get out of bed, you need more sleep each night.

Last updated Tuesday 2 January 2024

First published on Friday 11 September 2015