Heart Health


  • More than 5,000 people in Ireland die from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) each year
  • Making different lifestyle choices may reduce your risk
  • Dietary factors are a major contributor to increased risk

There is no better month for Valentine’s Day to fall than February which is heart health awareness month. With hearts surrounding us on this day of the year it is a perfect time to remind ourselves how important it is to keep our hearts healthy.

What is Heart Disease?

Our hearts are undoubtedly one of the most important organs, pumping life sustaining blood every second of everyday [1]. Coronary heart disease occurs when the arteries around the heart become narrowed due to a build-up of plaque which over time reduces blood flow. A complete blockage of the arteries can cause a heart attack [2].

According to Irish charity Croí, 6, 000 people have heart attacks in Ireland each year, but many are preventable through lifestyle changes [3]. Many factors that play a role in the risk of developing heart disease are out of our control such as age, gender, family history and ethnicity [4]. There are however lifestyle choices we can make that reduce our risk of developing heart disease.

Reducing Your Risk

Evidence shows us that altering lifestyle patterns may improve heart health and result in a reduction in the risk of developing heart disease [5].

Find out more about keeping you heart heathy from the Irish Heart Foundation

Diet and Heart Health

Dietary factors are a major contributor to the global burden of coronary heart disease [6]. There are foods which may have a detrimental effect such as foods high in fat, especially saturated fat, high in salt and high in sugar [7].

There are also foods that may have a protective effect on our heart health which we could include more of in our diets [7]:

Click here to find out more about eating for heart health from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute.

The only thing that should be making your heart skip a beat this Valentine’s Day is your loved ones ♥

Contributed to by Saoirse Farren, 3rd Year student, Public Health Nutrition, GMIT.


  1. Shepherd, J.T. (1985) The heart as a sensory organ. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 5(6, Supplement 1): p. 83B-87B.
  2. Keys, A., ( 1975) Coronary heart disease — The global picture. Atherosclerosis. 22(2): p. 149-192.
  3. Croí (2022) Heart Attack. Available from: https://croi.ie/health/heart-conditions/heart-attack/ (Accessed 11.02.22)
  4. Mitchell M. Kanter, P.M.K.-E., Maria Luz Fernandez, Kasey C. Vickers, David L. Katz. (2012) Exploring the Factors That Affect Blood Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk: Is Dietary Cholesterol as Bad for You as History Leads Us to Believe? Advances in Nutrition. September. Pages 711-717.
  5. Kabir, Z., et al. (2007) Can small changes in cardiovascular risk factors predict large future reductions in coronary heart disease mortality in Ireland? European Journal of Epidemiology. 22(2): p. 83.
  6. Downs, S.M. and J. Fanzo. (2015) Is a Cardio-Protective Diet Sustainable? A Review of the Synergies and Tensions Between Foods That Promote the Health of the Heart and the Planet. Current Nutrition Reports, 2015. 4(4): p. 313-322.
  7. Bhupathiraju, S.N. and Tucker, K.L. (2011). Coronary heart disease prevention: nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns. Clinica chimica acta, 412(17-18), pp.1493-1514.

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