As autumn closes in, some of us start to think about staying in more often and eating fewer salads... but World Heart Day on September 29th reminded us that small changes can have a big impact. It’s the day where organisations around the globe encourage us to take better care of our hearts. It’s a scary fact that heart and circulatory diseases kill 1 in 4 people. But there are steps that we can all take to look after our hearts - not just on World Heart Day, but every day.

1. Try to stop smoking

This is one of the most important things you can do for your heart. Stopping smoking will have lots of health and physical benefits, and can also save you money.

2. Keep to a healthy weight

If you are overweight, losing weight will help to protect your heart. Cancer and cancer treatment can cause problems that may make keeping to a healthy weight more complicated. We have more information about healthy eating and eating problems.

3. Eat healthily 

People who have a healthy diet may have a lower risk of heart disease. It may also reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer.

4. Keep active

Being active is good for your heart, as well as reducing the risk of other health problems. Being active does not mean you must go to a gym or run a marathon. To start with it can be as simple as going for short walks, gardening or even washing the car. Sign up to our email newsletter here for tips and expert advice to keep you motivated.

Quote from Dave, saying I had to make changes. Instead of getting the bus to work, I got a bike and cycled. At first it was difficult but after two or three weeks it gets easier. You notice your trousers are just a little bit looser, which inspires you to do it even more.

5. Learn how to cope with stress

Nobody likes to feel stressed. Learning how to cope with stress can make you feel better and help to keep your heart healthy. It is important to talk to someone about how you feel, and get support from health professionals if you have questions or worries. Finding ways to relax can also help to reduce stress levels. This can be different for everyone but you could try listening to relaxing music or doing some physical activity, such as walking, swimming or yoga. Some people find that complementary therapies help, such as a massage.

To round up...

You can improve your heart health at any age, even if you already have a heart problem. Making changes such as eating well or stopping smoking can help before, during or after cancer treatment. Even small changes can make a difference.

Keeping your heart healthy is important throughout your life, not just during cancer treatment. Our 10 top tips for heart health before, during and after cancer treatment can help you. We also have a free booklet on Heart health and cancer treatment.

If you need more advice or support about keeping your heart healthy, talk to your doctor or nurse. You can also call our support line on 0808 808 00 00 Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm.

If you are over 30 and you want to find out about more about your heart health, the British Heart Foundation have teamed up with NHS choices to build a Heart Age Test.

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