5 Steps To “side-step” Risk Of Heart Disease In Today’s Stressful Life

5 Steps To “side-step” Risk Of Heart Disease In Today’s Stressful Life
Dr. Rajesh T R
Consultant Cardiothoracic and Vascular surgeon,
Kauvery Hospital, Electronic City (Bangalore)
We are in the midst of the Corona pandemic. But how many of you are aware that we were already in an ongoing Heart disease epidemic! Yes, heart disease has reached epidemic proportions in our country.
I have outlined a few steps which can start you off on your lifelong journey to take care of your heart.

1: Promise to take care of your heart

The heart is vital organ and works nonstop throughout our lives. It is the most hard working muscle of our body! Any problem with the heart affects our life adversely and can be fatal. This new year let us resolve to take care of our heart and do everything needed to maintain its health.

2: Know about heart disease and its risk factors

In the most common type of heart disease, fat deposits within the walls of arteries, causing obstruction and reduced blood supply to the heart muscle. It causes pain and breathlessness on physical exertion. Sometimes if the problem is severe, it causes Heart attack, where a portion of heart muscle is permanently damaged. Sometimes heart attacks can go unnoticed and lead to heart failure.
Do you know that just being an Indian, places you at higher risk for heart disease?! Even villagers are not spared. Women in the reproductive age group are also at an increased risk. It is not only affecting the younger, working population but unfortunately is much more severe in them. In addition to a strong genetic predisposition, a poor life style that has evolved over the last few decades, is responsible for this. High cholesterol levels, obesity, Diabetes, hypertension, smoking, stress etc are important modifiable risk factors that have contributed to this scenario.
The treatment for this disease is based on lifestyle modifications to control the modifiable risk factors and drugs to control the blocks. When the blocks are severe, procedures can be done to restore the blood supply. These include Angioplasty and stenting, and a surgical procedure called Bypass operation.

3: Lead a healthy life style

A healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of heart disease. One has to eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit the amount of salt and sugar. Switch to whole grain and low fat or non-fat products. Avoid junk and high calorie foods. Lead an active life. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. It can be as simple as brisk walking. You can continue playing your favourite sports. Try to increase physical activity in your daily routine, like taking the stairs or cycling to work. There are innumerable benefits of leading an active life beyond maintaining a healthy heart, like improving your mental well-being! Keep a watch on you weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for not only heart diseases but many other ailments as well.

4: Take care of risk factors

If you have any modifiable risk factor for heart disease, then it has to be addressed. Many of the risk factors can be controlled with a simple change in lifestyle. A balanced diet combined with a good amount of exercise is enough in most. Some in addition, may need medications. Though good medications are now available, what is important is to take expert advice and continue the treatment.
Tobacco use in any form has to be completely stopped. We all lead a stressful life. Stress is a silent killer and can be as bad as smoking! It is important to identify if one is having stress and take active measures to reduce it. Simple steps like taking breaks, spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby or meditation are simple and effective steps. One must not hesitate to take professional help if required.

5: Get yourself regularly checked

Undergoing a preventive health check up on a regular basis is a good practise. The earlier one starts the better. ECG. Echocardiogram and TMT are simple tests that can be done on OPD basis to confirm heart health.
Heart disease is sure a leading cause of death, but it need not be inevitable. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't mean you need to live a life of self-deprivation. Instead, find ways to incorporate heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle and you may well enjoy a healthier life for years to come.

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