Have a healthy heart

Have a healthy heart

CLEAN CARDIO Think twice before you order that extra-cheese burger, light that tea-time cigarette or clink those beer mugs on weekends. They could prove to be a potential nemesis to your heart, warns
Dr Pradeep Nambiar

Research shows that there are an estimated 50 million Indians who suffer from coronary artery disease. It has also been found that coronary artery disease has increased tremendously, especially in women. The established notion that women are protected from heart diseases and they require higher risk factors for disease development does not hold relevance now.

Looking for reasons
There are several reasons behind the
increase of this deadly disease. One primary cause is changes in lifestyle in metropolitan cities. Women are more susceptible to these changes and their
consequences on health.

In big cities, women have the additional pressure of earning money along with
domestic responsibilities. Long working hours and addiction to smoking and
drinking to deal with the stress of personal and professional lives has become the main reason behind heart ailments, especially among women.

This pressure can also lead to hypertension, which is a silent killer, as it does not manifest through symptoms,

until it causes complications such as heart attack and stroke. It is spreading its wings in effective ways as most people do not get to know about hypertension until it is too late.

According to recent government data, hypertension is the leading non-communicable disease risk factor and estimated to be attributable to nearly 10 percent of all deaths in India. Adult hypertension prevalence has risen dramatically over the past three decades from five percent to between 20-40 percent in urban areas and 12-17 percent in rural areas.

Hypertension is the other name of high blood pressure, that is, systolic blood pressure at or above 140 mm Hg and/ or a
diastolic blood pressure at or above 90 mm Hg. The normal blood pressure reading is systolic 120 over diastolic 80.

Hypertension strains the blood vessels of the body, causing them to clog or
weaken. It can also lead to narrowing of the blood vessels, making them more likely to block from blood clots or bits of fatty material breaking off from the lining of the blood vessel wall.

Also, one of the most disturbing facts is that the arteries of Indian women are narrower when compared with that of men. Hence they are more
vulnerable to coronary diseases.

One must also remember that physical inactivity is the root cause of every disease. It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent. Obesity is a major risk for cardio-

vascular disease and predisposes you to diabetes. Diabetes, too, is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Act in time
Modifications in lifestyle is important to vent out the mounting pressure in life. It’s a good idea to practise yoga and meditation for at least half-an-hour a day to help de-stress.

Also, brisk walking on a daily basis is the best
medicine for a healthy heart. It lowers the sugar and cholesterol levels, while strengthening the heart and sharpening the mind.

Women must avoid sedentary lifestyle and keep a regular check on their blood sugar and blood pressure levels. In addition to this, it is important to get a fasting lipid profile done. Women must also increase calcium intake in their food.
Maintaining good hydration is also

extremely crucial. During summer, the body loses lots of water. You should replete the lost water by taking in plenty of fluids such as water, juice, coconut water and so on. You should have at least 10 glasses of water every day.

Socialising and spending time with loved ones will also have therapeutic effect on your health. Laugh a lot, it keeps you young! Laughter actually increases blood flow in the body, proving right the old adage that laughter is the best medicine. It releases a stress-busting chemical that relaxes the arteries in your heart.

Platter matters
Food plays a very important role in
keeping the heart healthy. A diet high in saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is estimated to cause about 31 percent of coronary heart
diseases and 11 percent of stroke,

worldwide. We need to make many amends in our daily diet chart to avoid this.
Our diets should comprise dark, leafy, green vegetables and plenty of fruits. We can also include fresh fish in our diet as fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also rich in other nutrients such as Vitamin D, selenium and protein, and low in saturated fat.

There is strong evidence that eating fish or taking in fish oil is good for the heart and blood vessels. Red meat should be avoided as it is very bad for the heart.
Also, eat colourful foods, rich in heart-healthy antioxidants, such as pomegranates, blueberries, tomatoes and spinach.

Their anti-oxidant properties help limit damage caused to your cells by free
radicals and may also lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Cooking methods also hold importance as it can make or mar the food’s nutrient qualities. Putting a lot of spices while cooking or deep frying destroys the minerals and vitamins in the food.

Olive oil should be used for cooking as it contains healthy fats that might improve the health of your coronary arteries. It’s also prudent to reduce the salt intake in food and avoid ready-to-eat foods like biscuits, chips and the like.

(The author is senior consultant,
cardiothoracic surgery, Max Super
Specialty Hospital and Moolchand
Hospital, Delhi)

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