The 4 lifestyle changes to cut our heart disease risk and the NHS's cost

Disease of the heart and blood vessels, known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), costs our NHS an alarming 9 billion pounds a year [1]. Heart disease is the biggest contributor to CVD [2] causing over half of the 17.8 million deaths a year from CVD [3].

Research shows we can prevent over 80% of our heart disease risk [5] by simply taking responsibility for our own health to protect the NHS.

The NHS is the fifth biggest employer in the world [6], and let's say we were able to save just 10% of this CVD NHS bill, we could give the 470,000 nurses and doctors [7] a £2,000 pay rise, each.

So how can we be part of the solution rather than part of the problem? To achieve this massive 80% risk reduction and lower the burden on the NHS do we need to have some sort of invasive surgery? Or maybe be put on a blood cleansing session twice a week for 4 hours a time, known as apheresis?

Nothing of the sort - research shows following just 4 lifestyle factors has the ability to reduce heart attack by 81% compared to people who didn’t follow any of these lifestyle factors [5].

The factors:

  1. Never smoking

  2. Having a body mass index lower than 30

  3. 30mins a day of physical activity

  4. Following healthy dietary principles (high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread and low meat consumption).’

Starting with the fourth point - diet, eating our 5 a day and lowering meat can help not only ourselves but also the frontline Nurses and Doctors. It’s been shown that for each additional serving of fruits and/or vegetables we munch, our CVD risk is cut by 4%.

One way of putting this into practice is by having a piece of fruit after every meal, then we smash 3 of our 5 a day without even having to really think about it. Grab and big bowl and fill it with your favourites and ensure it’s in a place where you always see it.

Think about your average day, how many peices of fruit do you eat and what's your favourites?

In no way is this information meant to replace the advice given by your doctor, always follow the advice of your health professional. Inform your doctor if you are making any large changes to your lifestyle.

As always, don't just take our word for it, have a read through some of the evidence we use which is all referenced below.


1] BHF analysis of European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2017, EHN (www.ehnheart.org/cvd-statistics/cvd-statistics-2017.html) [accessed 18/06/2020

2] World Health Organization, 2018, http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death

3] United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL [accessed 21.06.2020].

4] Wang, X., Ouyang, Y., Liu, J., Zhu, M., Zhao, G., Bao, W. and Hu, F.B., 2014. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Bmj, 349, p.g4490.

5] Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(15):1355-1362. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.237

6] World Economic Forum., 2015 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/worlds-10-biggest-employers/ [accessed 25.06.2020].

7] NHS Digital (2018), NHS Workforce Statistics – September 2018; NHS Digital (2018), General Practice Workforce, Final 30 September 2018, Experimental Statistics. NHS Digital