9 Ways to a Better Heart

1. Get tested . Did you know there's a simple test you can have to estimate how likely you are to have a stroke or a heart attack? It's called the Highly Sensitive C-reactive Protein Test, otherwise known as HSCRP. This test has shown to be just as effective as a normal cholesterol test for the way it can give advance warning of the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. It works by measuring a specific protein in the blood that can indicate inflated arteries in the heart, which can go on to cause heart attacks. It is thought 50% of all people who have heart attacks will have a normal cholesterol reading so the HSCRP test is said to be a much more accurate indicator. Make an appointment with your doctor and arrange to have one done.

2. Keep Fit . It is a well known fact that exercise is beneficial for your heart but did you know it's important to keep up a regular exercise routine? It does not take long to notice a difference to your fitness after exercising but these benefits will wear off quickly if you give up working out. In a study of those who exercise regularly and those who have stopped, doctors have found a much higher health rate in those who maintain their keep fit routine. If you do not take regular exercise then now is the time to start – it's never too late. Having an active healthy lifestyle is a simple step to a long and healthy life!

3. Take up weight training . Apart from increasing your muscles, lifting weights will strengthen them. The stronger you are the less tiring everyday things will become and the less stress you will put on your heart. Strong muscles will keep your heart working without strain and increase your chances of living longer.

4. Cut the dope . Did you know you're increasing your chances of having a heart attack by smoking weed? In fact for the first few hours after you've smoked a joint you're increasing your chances dramatically. Stamp it out now – your heart will thank you for it.

5. When using olive oil make sure it's the extra virgin type . It's much lower in cholesterol and fat, therefore a much healthier choice. It may be slightly more expensive but certainly it's worth it for a healthy heart?

6. Research your genetics . Chances are your doctor may know little about your genetic history so go visit a counselor and get it checked out. Your genetic make up is probably the most essential medical information you'll ever need to know. Find out any common family ailments or problems and take steps to rectify them before it's too late.

7. Get your doctor to arrange for you to have an ultrasound . Usually with heart problems, most people do not realize they're affected until it's too late. You can change all that by having a procedure carried out, called an electron beam cat scan or EBCT. It shows your doctor a 3D picture of your arms and heart and will show up any problems or blockages while they're still in the early stages. Steps can then be taken to repair any damage.

8. Statin medication . This type of drug works by reducing your cholesterol. Last year a study was carried out of patients suffering from coronary artery disease. 50% of the patients had angioplasty carried out and the others took medication, atorvastatin – a statin drug. The group taking the medication reported fewer occurrences of heart attacks during the next year and a half. It appears it's not enough just to unblock the arteries but with the aid of statin the blood vessels actually increase in size, allowing a better blood flow.

9. Ramipril . A drug used to treat hypertension which has been in use for over 30 years. Recent studies show it can help prevent strokes and heart attacks and can even reduce the need for a surgical bypass operation. In the study, which collected information on 10,000 patients, over three quarters of whom had coronary artery disease, Ramipril and Vitamin E were tested alongside placebos. No benefit was shown by those taking Vitamin E, but those who tested Ramipril had a 25% decrease in death rate.