The NHS in Medway is supporting Self Care Week (Monday, 12 to Sunday, 18 November), which encourages people to take greater control of their own health and well-being.
Self care refers to the types of things people can do themselves, with help and support from the right health professionals, to stay well and look after themselves if they become ill. This includes keeping fit and healthy, treating minor ailments effectively, taking prescribed medicines correctly, and seeking help when needed from the right place.

For anyone with a long-term condition, such as diabetes, arthritis or heart disease, self care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it. This increases their confidence and independence and avoids unnecessary hospital admissions.
Self care is particularly important during the winter months as seasonal illnesses increase. Following these simple steps can help you to take more control of your health:
• Choose well – know where best to access health care or advice before you need it. Your options include talking to your pharmacist about minor ailments, seeking advice from your GP or practice nurse, visiting a local NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit (MIU) for treatment or calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647. Accident and Emergency is for life-threatening injuries or illnesses only.
• Have an up-to-date medicine and first aid kit at home to deal with common health problems.
• Contact your GP practice about having a free flu vaccination if you are pregnant, older than 65, have a long-term condition or care for someone who does.
Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, which will take over the planning and paying of health services in Medway from the primary care trust in April 2013, is supporting Self Care Week 2012 by raising awareness of how it will support people to lead healthy lives.

Dr Nathan Nathan, Chairman of Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “People who take greater control of their health and conditions and try to stay as healthy as possible will not only lead more fulfilling lives, but will also help reduce pressure on the NHS by ensuring that their GP surgery and Accident and Emergency department is kept free for when people need it the most.
“Supporting patients to lead healthy lives is at the centre of Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans to improve the area’s health services. Self-care doesn’t mean doing everything on your own, as support and advice is available from local NHS services.”

You can find out more about self-care and how to improve your health and well-being, as well as managing long-term conditions, by visiting http://www.medwaypct.nhs.uk/self-care

Some other simple tips to help support your health:
We love your heart – how you can look after it
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke is increased by smoking; having high blood pressure or cholesterol; being inactive; being overweight or obese; stress; drinking lots of alcohol; having diabetes and a family history of heart disease or stroke. Your risk also increases as you get older.
Making changes to your lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing certain heart conditions, such as angina and heart attack or having a stroke.Visit http://www.abettermedway.co.uk for advice to improve your health.

Quit smoking
It’s the single most important thing you can do protect your health and heart. More than 2, 260 smokers in Medway quit last year, saving an average of £2,000 a year on tobacco. Either phone the Stop Smoking Team on 0800 234 6805 or visit http://www.smokefreemedway.co.uk

Health check
If you’re aged 40 to 70, make sure you’ve had your free NHS Health Check for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Your GP will invite you for your first check – unless you’ve already been diagnosed with one of the conditions. Your blood pressure and cholesterol will be tested, your height and weight measured and you will be asked about your medical history, including your age, ethnic background and that of your close family.

Your GP will give you personalised advice on how to lower your risk and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Eat your way to a healthy heart
Reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat you eat – such as butter, cheese, sausages and fatty meats – will help reduce your cholesterol, a fatty substance found in the blood, which will minimise your risk of heart problems. Fill up on plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain versions of food such as bread, rice, and pasta. Get healthy recipe ideas from http://www.abettermedway.co.uk/medwaycooks
Check your pulse

A fast or irregular heartbeat could be a sign of atrial fibrillation, a common cause of stroke. It happens when the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, contract randomly and sometimes so fast that the heart muscle cannot relax properly. This reduces the heart’s efficiency and performance and can lead to dizziness, shortness of breath and dangerous blood clots. About three quarters of strokes that occur due to AF can be prevented by checking your pulse rhythm at least once a year. A normal pulse rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Learn how to take your pulse at http://www.medwaypct.nhs.uk/self-care

Ask your GP or the British Heart Foundation’s website – http://www.bhf.org.uk – for advice and support to improve your heart.

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