OUR family members and friends are taken far too soon from us when heart failure strikes, and in fact it seems like these incidents occur all too often.

So it’s been great to read about the Helensburgh Garelochside Rotary Club and the Heartstart volunteers who have launched a fund-raising drive to help their bid to install five new pieces of life-saving equipment in the community in 2021.

This column comes from the heart, metaphorically and physically. I lost my dad to a heart attack at the age of 64. My grandfather – my dad’s dad - lost his life in the same way, also aged 64.

I’m sure many of you will have had a similar experience and will know of the importance of informing others so that it doesn’t happen to them too.

So yes, it is great to see this drive for more defibrillators. However, I believe more must be done to tackle the root causes of heart failure.

READ MORE: Helensburgh public urged to back campaign to install new defibrillators

Scotland is not exactly known for its healthy diet or its focus on exercise, and according to ISD Scotland’s most up-to-date figure, heart disease, and concurrently, heart failure, is still one of the leading causes of death in the country.

A healthy diet, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and managing stress effectively are all ways to keep heart danger at bay. No-one is saying we must give up our favourite fried meals entirely, or abstain from alcohol completely, but cutting back on fatty foods and drink can make all the difference in maintaining decent health as we age. And knowing we’ve cut back makes that occasional takeaway treat or Saturday night glass of beer taste all the better.

Scope for exploring the great outdoors locally has been one of the few boons of lockdown. But with restrictions about to be relaxed, and greater freedom to explore beyond our own neighbourhoods just a few hours away, it’s great to know there will be even more opportunity to get the blood flowing – and reduce the chances of us ever needing one of those defibrillators. But it’s still great to know they are there.