Although heart disease rates have been declining across Europe over the past decade or so (possibly as a result of there being fewer smokers and better preventative measures such as statins being developed), it is still one of the UK’s deadliest killers, now second only to cancer.

In fact, there are other factors at play – for instance, obesity levels are higher than they used to be due to our consumption of saturated fat, salt and sugar – and it is still our responsibility, therefore, to regulate our lives and activities to ensure that we do not fall victim to heart or general cardiovascular disease.

There are a number of ways in which you can reduce your risk of heart disease on a daily basis. A lot of it may seem like common sense, but statistics show that the number of people who ignore these basic guidelines for living a healthy life has barely decreased.

Don’t smoke

Smokers are almost twice as likely to die of a heart attack as non-smokers. The nicotine in cigarettes and cigars reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your heart in addition to raising your blood pressure and speeding up your heart rate. All of this puts undue pressure on the cardiovascular system and the heart itself, and can lead to a quicker decline compared to those who do not smoke.

Try and get thirty minutes of exercise a day

It doesn’t matter what sort of exercise you do – from swimming to cycling to something as simple as brisk walking, it all has the same positive effect on your body (in general terms – different sets of muscle will be worked depending on the type of exercise you do).

Eat healthily

Not only does a healthy diet prevent you from gaining weight and help you to lose it if you need to, but it also increases the amount of healthy vitamins and antioxidants you take in, which actively lessens the risk of you developing heart disease. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, nuts and berries are just some of the foods that you should be consuming on a regular basis.

Maintain a healthy weight

In more general terms, if you’re overweight, you are more susceptible to problems like high blood pressure and the development of diabetes, so it’s in your best interest to maintain a healthy weight as much as you can. You can go a long way towards doing so by following the exercise and diet advice noted above. Work out what your BMI (body mass index) is by using an online calculator that uses your height and weight to determine whether you are overweight or not.

Get enough sleep

Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night – this isn’t just because we struggle to focus and get through the next day, but also because not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can increase the likelihood of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. Ensure that your bedroom is a suitable place to sleep so you won’t wake up during the night.

You may only need to take one of these points on board, or you might need to incorporate all of them into your routine. Regardless, the improvement in your health will probably be noticeable within a few days of the change in your routine and offer you the encouragement to stick with it and potentially completely overhaul the way you live your life (and give you extra time to do so, as well!).