Key points

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease and stroke, remains one of the main causes of death and ill-health in the UK.
  • Important risk factors for heart disease include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating a healthy diet, being physically active, not smoking and not drinking alcohol excessively can all help to reduce the risk of CVD.
  • There are also a number of non-modifiable risk factors for CVD, such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history of the disease.
  • Practical food-based advice to reduce the risk of CVD remains consistent with general ‘healthy eating’ guidelines. These include to maintain a healthy body weight, eat 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day, reduce intake of saturates, reduce salt intake and eat at least two portions of fish, one of which should be oily fish, each week.