‘Healthy lifestyle for a healthy heart’, should be the punchline for everyone above 25 years of age in India and any developing country in the world. Health and fitness experts point to a flurry of new changes in diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, changes in the acceptable limits of these bad habits and most importantly – the excess amount of food available at a quick disposal.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Chandrasekhara Kulkarni, Consultant, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery [CVTS] at Global Hospital in Parel, Mumbai shared, “Nowadays, most people don’t walk to a restaurant or order online. Minimum activity and maximum intake at the wrong time of day can be a precursor to heart disease, as well as other problems due to calcium and cholesterol deposits in the arteries leading to your brain, kidneys, heart and intestines. Hence, it causes a reduction in a particular artery as a whole. In this case, if it is in the arteries of the heart, it is called a heart attack.
They suggest the following important practices to prevent heart attacks:
1. Modification of diet – Eat sensibly, make smart choices when it comes to eating out. Try to reduce the amount of quick service restaurants or high intake of salty or fried foods. Maybe you’ll settle for a simple sandwich with some veggies and less cheese. Try to avoid the double cheese pizza and eat a simple food bowl with less salt or sugar.
2. Exercise – Burning extra calories and extra fat throughout your body is very important and especially reduces the chances of getting a heart attack.
3. Carefully examining your family tree – Understanding the potential risks of developing any type of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and unexplained loss of fingers and toes due to arterial blockages. If there is an index case of heart attack in your family, it could be one of the parents or a very close generational relative such as uncles and aunts, if the heart attack occurred at age 50. As a result, you should start checking yourself after the age of 35 because you may be at higher risk of getting yours
4. Maintaining minimal alcohol consumption and complete abstinence from tobacco – Prevention of acquired causes of coronary artery disease is of utmost importance. Monitoring vitamin B12 intake should also be a top priority. Serum homocysteine levels should also be checked to determine whether any particular patient has a family history of early coronary artery disease. These are preventable in many individuals, and direct vitamin B complex supplementation and their contributing variables may help avoid serious coronary disease in the population we see today.
Echoing similar suggestions while adding to the list of suggestions, Dr Zainulabedin Hamdule, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Masina Hospital Heart Institute in Byculla, Mumbai recommends:
1. Monitor your blood pressure – High blood pressure gradually increases blood flow in the arteries, which makes them less elastic and damages the cells lining the arteries. Fats from food accumulate in these damaged arteries, resulting in reduced flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, which can lead to heart attacks. Checking your blood pressure regularly can help keep it under control.
2. Eat heart healthy foods – Diet is one of the most important factors in helping to keep your heart healthy. Other risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, and inflammation, are also affected by your diet. Avoid foods with high levels of saturated and trans fats, salt and sugar. Regular consumption of foods rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, whole grains and healthy fats will boost your heart health.
3. Work out regularly – Obesity is a risk factor for the onset of heart problems. Regular physical activity is essential to keep your weight under control. Regular physical activity can help control or modify cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which are major risk factors for heart disease. Jogging, running, working out at the gym or at home, there are plenty of activities you can do to keep your heart healthy.
4. Manage your stress – Stress is a major contributor to all sorts of problems in our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Persistent stress, also known as chronic stress, can lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, less physical activity and overeating, which can affect the heart. Dealing with stress effectively is very important. There are many ways to reduce stress, such as deep breathing, yoga, carving time for hobbies, if done regularly.