Men and women can learn how to cut their risk of heart disease, the nation's biggest killer, with a new DVD launched by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) today.
The motivational DVD follows five real people who all have a heart health risk due to factors such as smoking and being overweight. Realistic, guilt-free advice from experts and inspiring stories from every-day people can help viewers take positive action towards their own health.
A simple menu allows the viewer to select the risk factor they want to learn about, and downloadable fact sheets, with handy tips and information, are a great extra on the DVD. The risk factors covered are:
High blood pressure
In the UK, around one in five men and one in six women die from coronary heart disease, and someone has a heart attack every two minutes1. It is the most common cause of premature death in the UK, yet many deaths from heart disease are avoidable.
Julian, a 38-year-old man featured in the DVD, has a busy and stressful job. He has smoked for 15 years and has high cholesterol levels.
Julian says: "My uncle died young at 55 through problems with his heart, and I was genuinely surprised that he'd died so young. When I spoke to the doctor and he said I had high cholesterol, it made me think back to my uncle and it made me understand that it was time to have a look at myself."
TV's expert dietician, Azmina Govindji, discusses healthier food choices with Julian that will help manage his cholesterol levels, offering practical tips for the viewer throughout. Since making the DVD, Julian has now stopped smoking and has lowered his cholesterol.
Professor Andrew Steptoe, BHF Chair of Psychology, says: "Although many people smoke and have a drink to help them cope with stress, what the research evidence suggests, is that these have the opposite effect. Paradoxically, having a cigarette will increase levels of stress hormones such as Cortisol, it will increase your blood pressure and pulse rate. It will do all the things that are the reverse of relaxing".
Bill, 60, also features in the DVD. Bill lives in south Devon, and was diagnosed with type II diabetes 4 years ago. He also has a raised blood pressure, high cholesterol and doesn't take much exercise. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke so it's vital to incorporate physical activity in to daily life to reduce risk of heart disease and keep control of weight.
Bill found the news of his illness hard to take: "It knocks you for six. My life is different now since I've been diabetic because you've got to constantly monitor it every day. So you just can't say, 'right, I'm going to go for a six mile walk today' - it's an effort just to walk around town."
Fitness expert Sandy Gilbert visits Bill to help him make a start on getting physically active. After joining a walking group, Bill says: "I'm surprised myself on what I'm doing, actually. It's an achievement and I'm doing well. I've got a sweat on, but I feel absolutely wonderful! I shall be doing it every week."
In a concluding chapter of the DVD, BHF's Director of Prevention and Care, Dr Mike Knapton, meets with all case studies four weeks after their initial assessment.
Dr Knapton says: "I'm really encouraged to see how much progress they've made in a month. It's a real inspiration for all of us to see how the energy and commitment you can put into taking control of your own life will improve your prospects in terms of cardiovascular risk in the future".
To order the DVD, call 0870 600 6566 or visit bhf.org.uk/publications. The DVD can be ordered for free but a suggested donation of £5 will help us continue our lifesaving work. If you have any questions about your heart health, you can call our Heart Information Line on 08450 708070 (local rate).