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Dr Hilary Jones' heart health Q & A

Article written by Dr Hilary Jones

Date published 05 October 2023

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Dr. Hilary Jones discusses the warning signs of heart problems, why it's not just a male problem, and how you can boost your heart health and energy levels.

đź•’ 3 min read

What are the warning signs of heart problems?

Heart disease can sometimes strike without warning. Risk factors including high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels produce no symptoms until a serious event occurs.

However, there may well be warning signs we should never ignore. Any chest pain or discomfort should be checked out, as should any shortness of breath on exertion, or palpitations.

Dizziness and fainting can sometimes be attributed to a heart rhythm disorder, and even erectile dysfunction or underlying pain in the calf muscles on walking may indicate circulatory problems. Unexplained fatigue could also be down to your heart, so never ignore it.

How does heart health differ between men and women?

Heart disease is generally considered to be a man's disease, but this is wrong. In Ireland, women are six times as likely to die from coronary heart disease, the main cause of heart attacks, as they are to die from breast cancer. In fact, heart disease was the single biggest killer of women worldwide in 2019.

Women are partially protected by their hormones prior to the menopause, but after this their risk catches up with that of men. For this reason, I recommend that all women over 40 should have five-yearly health checks, particularly if there is any family history of heart disease.

How can I improve my circulation naturally to reduce the risk of heart-related problems?

A healthy, varied, well-balanced diet low in saturated fat and rich in oily fish, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds is important to maintain heart health, as is regular exercise.

Smoking tobacco is hugely detrimental, so quit smoking completely if you haven't already. Sterol and stanol supplements help to reduce cholesterol levels, but for other circulatory benefits consider Fruitflow tomato seed extract, coenzyme Q10 and omega 3 fatty acids. Red vine leaf extract can help leg vein function for those with tired heavy legs, and vitamin K2 can boost circulation, too.

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How does stress impact heart health, and what are some effective stress management techniques?

Too much stress produces adrenaline-like substances, which raise blood fat levels, accelerate the heart rate, and raise blood pressure. Stress also plays havoc with the nervous system, leading to anxiety, sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath and insomnia.

Try to identify the causes of stress, and avoid them. Learn to politely say no when you've already got too much on, delegate to others if you can, and find time just for yourself. Learn relaxation techniques such as the quieting reflex, and try deep, muscular relaxation and meditation. When calmer, you'll perform better and feel much happier.

How can I boost my energy levels?

Feeling 'tired all the time' is at record levels. When you feel exhausted for no obvious reason, consider whether it could be down to abnormal sleeping patterns, any underlying anxiety or depression, increasing weight, an unhealthy diet and too little exercise.

Physical activity, even when you may not feel like it, is invigorating. Get your doctor to rule out an underactive thyroid or iron deficiency. Opt for a super-healthy diet and consider supplements such as coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B complex, both of which help produce extra energy from your diet.

Other energy-supporting supplements include magnesium and iron.

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Dr Hilary Jones

About Dr Hilary Jones

Dr Hilary Jones is a GP, media doctor and author, and patron of several medical charities, including the Meningitis Research Foundation and London's Air Ambulance. He is currently the Health Editor for Good Morning Britain. Dr. Hilary received an MBE in 2020 for "services to broadcasting, public health information and charity."