Healthy Hearts

It's never too late to improve the health of your heart. Even in mid-life or old age, there are huge benefits to stopping smoking, doing more exercise, cutting down on alcohol and eating more healthily.

Cardiovascular disease includes all the diseases of the heart and circulation, including

  • coronary heart disease
  • angina
  • heart attack
  • congenital heart disease
  • stroke

It's also known as heart and circulatory disease.

There are almost 15,000 people with coronary heart disease in the Wakefield area (NHS Wakefield CCG). 

Hypertension prevalence

Public Health England estimates that there are approximately 93,300 people in Wakefield with hypertension.

Suggesting 60 per cent of people have been diagnosed, with around 36,865 undetected cases in the district.

Public Health England (PHE) estimates that 74 per cent of atrial fibrillation (AF) patients have been identified in Wakefield, suggesting that there are potentially 2,100 undiagnosed cases of AF.

Common Questions

What is cardiovascular disease risk?


Most cardiovascular disease (CVD) is caused by risk factors that can be changed, treated or controlled – things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, smoking, not enough exercise and diabetes.

But some risk factors can't be changed – advancing age, for example, brings with it more risk. Gender also influences CVD risk. Men are generally more at risk, as are women after the menopause. And if you have a family history of CVD, where a close blood relative (mother, father, sister or brother) had CVD or stroke before the age of 55 years (for men) or 65 years (for women), this also increases the risk.

You can read more about how to improve risk factors that can be changed, treated or controlled.

Why have I been prescribed statins?

If you have been prescribed statins, your doctor has assessed that you are at significant risk of CVD. You may have high cholesterol levels, but you can also be at risk of CVD with what we used to think were "normal levels of cholesterol". Statins can reduce this risk by a third if taken properly and at the right dose. Cholesterol is essential for your body to work well, but too much 'bad cholesterol' is unhealthy. Statins reduce the amount of 'bad cholesterol' your body makes. High levels of 'bad cholesterol' in your blood can

Hypertension: so you've been told your blood pressure is too high?

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is one of the most common health problems in the UK.

It's estimated that more than 50,000 people in Bradford have undiagnosed high blood pressure.

It doesn't have any noticeable symptoms but, if left untreated, it can do massive damage to our arteries and organs, helping to cause narrowing of the arteries. This, in turn, results in strokes and heart attacks, as well as angina, heart failure, kidney failure and narrowed arteries in the legs.

There isn't always an explanation for the cause of high blood pressure, but these factors can play a part:

If your blood pressure is very high, your doctor is likely to prescribe you a medicine to control it and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Trying to be more active, lose weight, reduce salt in your diet and reduce alcohol intake can all improve blood pressure – sometimes as much as taking one blood pressure medicine (or more)!

What do my blood pressure numbers mean?

For many people, the usual target for blood pressure is below 140/90 mmHg.

If you have heart or circulatory disease, including being told you have coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack or stroke, or have diabetes or kidney disease, your doctor may recommend a lower target.

Every blood pressure reading consists of two numbers or measurements. They are shown as one number on top of the other and measured in mmHg, which means millimetres of mercury. If your reading is 120/80mmHg, you might hear your doctor or nurse saying your blood pressure is "120 over 80".

The first (or top) number represents the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts and pumps blood through your arteries - your systolic blood pressure. The second (or bottom) number represents the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats - your diastolic blood pressure.

How can I monitor my blood pressure?

A good way to monitor blood pressure is by checking it at home. Blood pressure machines can be bought from most pharmacies and supermarkets. One example is the Omron M2 Basic. Upper arm blood pressure machines are recommended rather than wrist machines.

Here is one list of BP machines from the British Hypertension Society.

You could also ask your local community pharmacy (chemist) to measure your blood pressure.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heartbeat. We estimate that around 10,000 people in Bradford have this but many are undiagnosed.

t can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the chambers of the heart, which can lead to a stroke. AF increases stroke risk by around five times.

Although AF can greatly increase the risk of stroke, there are other factors that can contribute to a stroke. These include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, being overweight and diabetes.

With appropriate treatment, the risk of stroke from AF can be substantially reduced. A blood thinner is the most effective treatment to reduce the risk of stroke in people with AF. Most will require blood thinners, but a small number won't.

Examples of blood thinners include the well-known warfarin and some newer medicines such as rivaroxaban, apixaban and dabigatran. Aspirin is no longer advised for use in AF in the "NICE guidelines" in England since it is not considered to be effective. (Aspirin is still used in other heart conditions apart from AF).


Healthy Heart Calculator

How healthy is your heart?

Use this free calculator to find out your heart age.

What does it tell you about your heart? Whatever it tells you, now is the right time to start thinking about how to make changes to your lifestyle. We've put together some of our favourite sources of information, advice and help so that you can find them easily.

You could also talk to your practice nurse about how you can get the most health benefits from this information.

Services and support

NHS Health Checks

Book that Health Check you've been meaning to sort out.

What does it tell you about your heart? If you're aged between 40-74, did you know you might be eligible for an NHS Health Check? It's a free health MOT designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia. As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing one of these condition so a health check helps find ways to lower this risk.

Your GP practice will be in touch when you're eligible for one. And if you work during the day, that's okay. NHS Health Checks are available locally in the evening and at weekends so you won't miss out.

Smoking advice

Yorkshire Smokefree Wakefield

Our advisors are on hand to answer any questions or provide additional support as you need it.

Opening hours

Monday: 8.30am-8pm
Tuesday: 8.30am-8pm
Wednesday: 8.30am-4.30pm
Thursday: 8.30am-8pm
Friday: 8.30am-8pm
Saturday: 8.30am-4.30pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Phone: 01924 252174 | 0800 612 0011
Visit the Yorkshire Smokefree website

National support

  • Call the free Smokefree National Helpline to speak to a trained, expert adviser on 0300 123 1044. All lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm*.
  • Smokefree has lots of free support this includes a smartphone app, email programme or text messages that will keep you focused wherever you are.
  • You can also speak to your doctor, pharmacy team or local Stop Smoking Service for expert advice on stop smoking medicines.

Self care

  • Download the NHS Smokefree app from itunes or google play
  • Get further information from the National Health Service
  • Consider using e-cigarettes to stop smoking
  • Millions have used Smokefree support to help them stop smoking. Choose from an app, email, SMS and face-to-face guidance.

Emphasise that quitting will be the best thing they will ever do and the NHS Smokefree service can provide the friendly and helpful support they need to quit for good

Healthy diet and healthy weight

Health Improvement - Wakefield Council

Phone: 01924 307 348

Self Care

  • The Public Health England 'One You'website has lots of information on different food choices and healthy recipes
  • Visit the healthy eating page on the 'Change for Life' website which has loads of great information about food and drink swaps for a healthier diet.
  • Try the new 'Be Food Smart app'! See how much sugar, sat fat and salt is really inside your food and drink - just by scanning the barcode from your mobile phone, Android and iPhone apps available.
  • Visit the recipes page on 'Change for Life' has a  extensive list of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and lunchboxes!
  • NHS Choices has a useful list of tips on how to add your 5 a day into your daily meals

Getting Active

Health Improvement Team - Wakefield Council

Phone: 01924 307 348

Self care

If you don't do anything, do something. If exercise didn’t involve a whole lot of self-motivation and actual physical activity, but instead came in a pill, it would be hailed immediately as “a wonder drug” such are the health benefits involved.

Public Health England's One You campaign supports adults by encouraging physical activity at a local level. A range of personalised tools are available via the How Are You online quiz, which has been completed by over 1 million people since it launched in March 2016.  

The 'One You' Couch to 5k phone app has been designed to help get people off the couch and running in just 9 weeks.

The 'One You' Active 10 phone app shows you how how much brisk walking you do and helps to show you how you can fit a ten minute brisk walk into your day. It breaks this brisk walking down into manageable chunks of ten minutes and encourages at least one session every day (which adds up to 70 minutes a week). Users can set their own goals and the app encourages people to progress up to 30 brisk minutes of walking per day, to meet the 150 minutes recommended by the Chief Medical Officer

Why not join a Parkrun in your local area? Did you know that one of the best things about Parkrun and Junior Parkrun is that you can run, or jog or walk entirely at your own pace. This makes it accessible for those who never could envisage running 2k or 5k and creates an environment where people feel welcome.  For those who don’t wish to run, jog or walk there is always the opportunity to volunteer to support your local Parkrun. There is probably a Parkrun local to you…visit the Parkrun website for more information.

Alcohol advice

Inspiring Recovery - Turning Point
Phone: 0300 123 1912
Visit the Turning Point website

National support

Do you think you would benefit from some further support to reduce your drinking to 'lower risk' levels?

Speak to your GP, a loved one or call Drinkline 0300 1231110 (Mon-Fri 9am - 8pm, weekends 11am - 4pm). The Drinkline service provides free, confidential, accurate and consistent information and advice to callers who are concerned about their own or someone else`s drinking regardless of the caller`s age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or spirituality.

Download the 'One You' drinks tracker makes it easy to keep an eye on the booze and take control with daily tips and feedback) available on itunes or google play

  • Get further information from NHS Choices

Self care

Further tips on cutting down

  • Make a plan - Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you're going to drink.
  • Set a budget - Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.
  • Let them know - If you let your friends and family know you're cutting down and it's important to you, you could get support from them.
  • Take it a day at a time - Cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.
  • Make it a smaller one - You can still enjoy a drink, but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
  • Have a lower-strength drink - Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You'll find this information on the bottle.
  • Stay hydrated - Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink.
  • Take a break - Have several drink-free days each week. 

Health Check

Contact us

Public Health

Wakefield Council
Wakefield One
PO Box 700

0345 8 506 506