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5 simple tips to keep your lungs and heart healthy

By Dr Vikas Maurya
November 20, 2019 09:30 IST
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Avoid smoking, eat healthy and practice deep breathing to improve lung functioning, says Dr Vikas Maurya.

How to keep your lungs and heart healthy

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

In India, COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is also called as 'Kaladama.'

It is predominantly caused by inhalation of smoke which is black whether from tobacco smoke or from air pollution or occupational exposure.

According to WHO estimates, 65 million people have moderate to severe COPD.

WHO predicts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

Earlier, COPD was more common in men, but because of increased tobacco use among women in high-income countries and the higher risk of exposure to indoor air pollution (such as biomass fuel used for cooking and heating) in low-income countries, the disease now affects men and women almost equally.

COPD is associated with progressive shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheeze and cough.

It is not curable but is treatable to a great extent.

These are five simple tips that might be useful in preventing COPD:

1. Stop smoking

It directly helps in decreasing the progression of the disease.

Certain medications and cessation programmes will help in stopping smoking

2. Avoid passive smoking

Refrain from common places where people are smoking -- restaurants, pubs and bars, especially. Cover or use a mask when you are around smokers.

3. Avoid both indoor and outdoor air pollution 

Avoid going out when pollution is high and use masks masks like N95 to avoid inhaling harmful pollutants including particulate matter.

Avoid taking busy routes and streets as they may have high level of pollution.

Indoor air pollution is mainly caused by smoke generated from cooking over wood fires, smoke from non-ventilated wood stoves and burning biomass.

It is better to avoid these if possible or make your home well ventilated with exhaust hoods.

4. Avoid occupational exposure

Those working in industries where there is increase exposure to dust, fumes should take precautions by using masks and getting regular lung check-ups.

5. Live an active and healthy lifestyle 

Doing regular aerobics and eating healthy food like fruits, vegetables, healthy oil, fish and whole grains is always better for both lungs and heart.

Deep breathing low frequency respiratory exercises also helps in improving lung function and blood pressure and is a good relaxing technique.

If you are not smoking it is important for you to combat indoor and outdoor pollution:

Here are some more tips to help you:

1. Avoid exercising in the open when the air is unsafe. Refrain from strenuous physical exercise as it may put additional pressure on your lungs 
2. Opt for car pool or public transport when AQI is very poor
3. Don’t encourage smoking inside the house or residential premises.
4. Remove dust from furnishings by regular cleaning at home. Use a vacuum cleaner frequently.
5. Use of air filters at home or air purifires can help in reducing indoor air pollution. 
6. Carpets and rugs are major source of dust and pollutants. If you are unable to dust them frequently, discard them.

COPD is an under-diagnosed, life threatening lung disease that may progressively lead to death.

It is therefore important to not only be aware of the disease but also prevent it.

Dr Vikas Maurya is director and head of department of pulmonology and sleep disorders at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi.

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Dr Vikas Maurya