Healthy hearts

Heart disease can often be prevented and this page will point you toward ways you can keep your heart healthy.

Image of a lady using both hands to hold a red heart.


Even if you have already had heart problems, there is still a lot you can do to keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of further problems.

Some behaviours greatly increase your risk of experiencing heart problems:

  • Smoking: if you smoke, stopping is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk.
  • Physical inactivity: being inactive is one of the most common risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). Did you know that a third of CHD, a quarter of strokes and a quarter of Type II diabetes could be prevented by taking regular physical activity?
  • Being overweight: carrying a lot of extra weight around is not good for you. It's not always easy, but losing weight is an important way to help protect your heart.
  • Stressing out: we all get stressed from time to time - it's a perfectly normal part of life.

However, too much stress is not good for the heart; it can indirectly cause heart problems, because when we're stressed we often engage in unhealthy behaviours such as overeating and drinking too much.

For advice on making active choices, please visit the Healthier Scotland website, and don't forget that you can visit your local sports centre or community centre to find out about active choices you can take part in.

Other risk factors for heart disease

  • Cholesterol: cholesterol plays an essential role in how every cell in the body works. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart problems
  • Family history: a family history of heart disease can increase your risk of developing heart disease. A family history means that:
    • your father or brother was under the age of 55 when they were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease
    • your mother or sister was under the age of 65 when they were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes: having diabetes can significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease, because high levels of glucose can affect artery walls.

For more information about the link between diabetes, heart disease and cholestrol, visit the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK website or call 0845 1202960.