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11 Tips To Keep Your Heart Healthy

By Dr UDGEATH DHIR
September 08, 2021 09:44 IST
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'We have no time for meals. We don't sleep on time or have family or community interactions.'
'All this stress has made us pressure cookers without valves.'
'No wonder then we are bursting out with heart attacks,' points out Dr Udgeath Dhir, director, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pexels.com

Cardiovascular is one of the most common causes of mortality in India, accounting for quarter of all cause mortalities.

As compared to the Western population we are genetically more prone to coronary artery diseases and in addition we encounter it a decade earlier as compared to the West.

Let us dig deeper into the causes of heart attack in young people.

What causes a heart attack?

There are certain modifiable and unmodifiable causes.

The unmodifiable genetic propensity with a strong family history of heart disease, is a major concern. High cholesterol to HDL ratio has been proven beyond doubt in various studies in the young population leading to aggressive cardiovascular diseases.

The modifiable causes are unscreened and undiagnosed. High blood pressure and diabetes account for another major chunk.

Another concern is the non-acceptance of these diseases and finding alibis and alternative treatment options by denying the conventional and scientifically proven treatments which further aggravate the aggressiveness of these diseases.

The seed for cardiovascular diseases depends on early lifestyle behaviour, influenced till 2 years of age, which plays a pivotal role.

Lifestyle modifications which change the phenotype of the disease which include diet, exercise, sleep pattern, personality traits and tobacco use.

Even though majority of us Indians are vegetarians, the consumption of vegetables and fruits in our diet is quite less.

We all often consume vegetables and fruits, which are overcooked or fried leading to destruction of beneficial nutrients.

Malnutrition per se, whether it is maternal, foetal or adult lays a steppingstone for cardiovascular diseases.

Overindulgence of tobacco and drugs in the young population is adding fuel to the fire of heart attacks.

Being extremists we either exercise a lot or we become couch potatoes.

We need to follow the middle path.

Excess of anything is bad. Be it exercise, protein or fats in our diet.

Use of shakes and products to enhance muscular roboacity ultimately harms and increases propensity of cardiovascular diseases.

Stress

Remember the proverb 'Early bird catches the worm?'.

We are like worms; work pressure, peer pressure, academic pressure, goal orientated time pressure has made our lives a living hell.

We have no time for meals. We don't sleep on time or have family or community interactions.

All this stress has made us pressure cookers without valves. No wonder then we are bursting out with heart attacks.

Here are some basic tips to help you reduce the risk of a heart attack:

1. Exercise regularly 

Our heart muscles become stronger when they contract and release repeatedly at a fast pace.

This helps in burning away any accumulated fat that may have deposited in the arteries which could have otherwise led to heart attacks.

Therefore, it is important to engage ourselves in some form of physical activity regularly at least for 30 to 45 minutes in a day.

2. Get adequate sleep

To ensure we have a healthy heart and lifestyle, we must get 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily.

Lack of adequate sleep impacts the normal functioning of the heart.

The heart rate is elevated in adults who don't get the desired sleep.

Insomnia leads to increased heart rate thus risking your chances of a breakdown.

3. Consumption of a healthy diet

It is critical to eat a healthy and balanced diet, preferably fresh food that is cooked at home in a hygienic environment.

You must include heart healthy foods like legumes, avocado, oatmeal, olive oil, nuts, berries, spinach and salmon in your daily diet.

4. Cut down on fried food

Most of the fried food you eat contains trans fat which is not good for the arteries.

To maintain a healthy heart one must cut down on fried food extensively.

5. A little red wine is good

Did anyone tell you that drinking a small amount of red wine is good for the heart?

Red wine has a chemical called 'resveratrol' which acts as an antioxidant and prevents coronary artery diseases.

6. Include fibre in your diet

Fibre lowers the blood pressure, limits inflammation and reduces bad cholesterol since it reduces absorption of cholesterol by our blood stream.

Some foods that are rich in fibre are whole grains, beans, fruits, and oatmeal. Include them in your diet to promote good heart health.

7. Reduce salt intake

While salt adds flavour to food, it also increases our blood pressure.

To maintain normal blood pressure levels we should add less salt while cooking.

Also you must avoid adding salt on the table while eating.

8. Quit smoking

Tobacco consumption is one of the leading causes of heart diseases.

Therefore, quitting smoking is one the best things to do to reduce the risk of a heart attack and to maintain a healthy heart.

9. Meditate regularly

Several studies have proven that regular meditation protects one from chronic heart diseases.

It calms the mind, regulates your breathing and reduces stress levels while ensuring that the heart pumps regularly.

10. Plan a daily routine

It's important to plan a regular schedule and follow it without fail.

Having a routine keeps one organised and happy. It also reduces stress levels that may be caused by unorganized activities

11. Get your annual health and wellness check-up

Getting an annual health check up is like an investment. You are investing in your well-being and your health.

Regular annual checkups help in early detection of any diseases that may occur within us.

If certain conditions or symptoms are detected early, it is easier to manage them.

Regular health check up includes screening of pulse, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels.

Remember, our body gives us signs in different ways. One must not ignore the signs and must reach out to their primary caregiver who can help with treatment.

After all, 'treatment delayed is treatment denied.'

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Dr UDGEATH DHIR