Heart diseases rank among one of the top most causes of death globally according to WHO (World Health Organization). Deaths due to heart diseases have doubled in India, its 28% now as compared to 15% in 1990s, as per a report published in Lancet Journal.
In the light of growing modern technology, not only the new and young “smartphone generation” but also everyone else is facing more devastating consequences due to their comfortable yet fast paced and stressful lifestyle. This is leading to spike in heart diseases and lifestyle disorders. And to further the situation is the fact that cardiovascular disorders are very unpredictable, they begin slowly but lead to sudden serious disturbances of heart and ill health.
We cannot change the causative factors of cardiovascular diseases like family history of heart diseases, gender or age but that does not mean we should not do our best to bring about changes in our lifestyle that can help in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Proper lifestyle, diet, exercise with appropriate medical interventions can help delay the problem or even put a stop.
Here are the pointers of the governance for a better Heart and actions to be taken:
One word, one cause that can be the root for different health disorders is stress.
In times when technology and support was not abundant activities such as house cleaning, gardening, taking children and pets to play and walk, climbing stairs, doing household work manually were daily physical activities. These activities even though sedentary, were helping people to keep their body fit and also assist to reduce the occurrence of high blood pressure, high sugar levels, high cholesterol and thus, check the overall strain on the heart, to a certain level.
Today’s fast moving lifestyle has literally reduced all these small yet essential de-stressing physical activities. Thus resulting in increase of oxidative stress and free radicals in the body that are detrimental for the heart.
Coping with stress in unhealthy way like binge eating, eating at irregular intervals or anorexia nervosa causes further negative impact on heart health.
The key is to find alternative ways of managing and reducing stress using various relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, pranayama, 30 minutes of physical activity preferably cardio exercise done 5 days a week, aerobics or brisk walking and more. These activities offer great benefits like increasing the oxygen levels in the body, enhancing blood circulation to all parts of the body, toning of muscles and nerves and much more resulting in better inner health of the body and the heart.
Getting quality sleep for appropriate amount of time is missing in this generation where most of the population is addicted to mobile phones and laptops, working in night shifts, late night binge watching, hectic work schedules. Sleep apnoea, breathing troubles are conditions which if persist for a considerable amount of time lead to disturbance in sleep-wake cycle that can further lead to increase in the risk of heart diseases.
Sleep is one of the major function during which the body goes into repair, maintenance and rest mode.
Making sleep a priority in life and sticking to a schedule is the solution. Most adults need 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily to feel fresh, stay health and to wake up energised.
A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables devoid the person of the micronutrients and trace elements essential for body. Consuming too much sugar, salt, high-fat food, processed foods are a threat to heart health.
Fast foods and ready-made foods are rich in trans-fats, hydrogenated and saturated fats. Food products like red meat, palm oil, crackers, chips, cookies, deep fried food, baked foods and all food types categorized as ‘junk food’ are detrimental in long run especially when consumed in excess or regularly. These can lead to accumulation of fat or sugar in the body and can lead to heart trouble. The increased exposure of chemicals and pesticides to the cultivated crops is also a major culprit for toxin build up.
- Substance misuse – Alcohol, smoking, consumption of drugs
When it comes to these habits, occasional and moderate usage of Alcohol is fine, but smoking, substance misuse and excessive alcoholism are immensely detrimental to the cardiovascular (heart) health of your body and are direct causes of heart disease.
Chemicals in tobacco damage blood vessels, causing plaques (fat deposition inside blood vessels). It also narrows the arteries leading to atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction (cardiac cell death). These symptoms have increased over the years and so has the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), even in non-smokers in last few years.
Smokeless tobacco, low nicotine cigars, low tar cigar, second-hand smoke (passive smoking) can also be dangerous and increase the risk of heart disease even if it is social smoking only with friends. Especially Women are at a greater risk if smoking while consuming contraceptive pills.
Getting regular health check-ups and medical consultation is advisable. As regular and early screening can help in detecting the diseases in time and hence can be better monitored and managed to reduce the risk to life.
Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy Life. Take care.
Contributed by Dr. Chaitra Avinash, an expert on lifestyle disorders, dietary intervention and hair-skin care.