Heart health

Heart attacks claim the lives of approximately 1,100 women and 1,360 men in Northern Ireland every year. Over 2.6 million people are living in the UK with coronary heart disease.

There are a number of different heart conditions and many you can help prevent by taking simple steps to improve your heart health.


Eat a healthy and varied diet

  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Cut down on the total amount of fat you eat
  • Eat at least two portions of fish per week and make one portion an oily fish, such as mackerel, trout or salmon
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Keep within the daily allowance for drinking alcohol - men, no more than 3-4 units per day and women, no more than 2-3 units per day. For more information on drinking sensibly see our alcohol and drugs section.

Keep active

  • Set yourself a goal to build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days a week. Moderate physical activity makes you breathe more heavily than normal and makes you warmer. 

Quit smoking

  • Smoking is one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease and smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked. Please see our smoking section for more information on how to quit smoking.

Reduce stress 

You may find our learning to relax booklet useful.


More advice on keeping your heart healthy is available on the British Heart Foundation (BHF) website or by telephoning the BHF Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311.


Hearty Lives

The BHF Hearty Lives Programme aims to reduce high levels of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in communities throughout the UK, improve their uptake of health services and help local organisations provide more services for heart health.

Cookstown currently has the third highest premature death rate from heart disease in Northern Ireland. A man living in Pomeroy, in the Cookstown area can be more than five times more likely to die early from heart disease than someone living six miles away.

Cookstown residents will be the first in Northern Ireland to trial the BHF’s Hearty Lives Programme. Working in partnership with Cookstown District Council and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Hearty Lives Cookstown will:

  • Provide a nurse educator to visit local workplaces, such as local meat factory Vion, and community groups to give people free advice and support on improving their heart health
  • Help more people who are at risk of heart disease, such as those who are overweight, to access local support and services
  • Train a force of people in the community to provide emergency life support if someone suffers a heart attack until medical services arrive
  • Help more heart patients to access cardiac rehabilitation, which improves their quality of life and gives them a 26% greater chance of surviving 2-5 years afterwards.

For more information on Hearty Lives Cookstown contact Bronagh McEldowney, Heart Health Educator by emailing bronagh.mceldowney@cookstown.gov.uk; Stephanie Leckey, Community Development Coordinator, BHF by telephoning 028 7082 5797, email leckeys@bhf.org.uk or visit the Hearty Lives Cookstown website.

Related links
Hearty Lives Cookstown leaflet

Page last updated:31 July 2013