How do I look after my heart?

When it comes to heart health, it’s important you know what to look for, and when to contact your GP. We’ve listed some common problems below including how to spot them, and what checks or treatment may be necessary if they develop.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a condition which can cause interrupted breathing during sleep, and is quite common in people with spina bifida. Symptoms include:

  • snoring/holding your breath while asleep
  • gasping for breath during sleep
  • waking up most days with a sore throat
  • feeling tired most days during the daytime.

If you think you may have sleep apnoea, consult your GP as there are tests and simple treatments. It is important to get treatment as it can do long term damage to your heart, as well as cause lymphoedema and weight gain. The ‘tired all the time’ feeling can affect your quality of life too by interfering with your ability to work, drive safely, or care for yourself.


Have an annual cholesterol test. A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight can lead to higher cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis which is hardening of the arteries. If your cholesterol level is high, your GP may prescribe a statin to protect your heart and arteries.

Blood pressure

Have your blood pressure tested at least once a year. High blood pressure can damage your heart and arteries causing heart problems and strokes. If your blood pressure is high, your GP may prescribe tablets to reduce this, therefore protecting your heart arteries and kidneys.

Need more help?

If you need to speak with one of Shine’s specialist advisers about spina bifida or hydrocephalus, call us on 01733 555988 or click here to email us.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We aim to respond to all enquiries as quickly as possible!


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