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Ways to keep heart healthy - Dr Gaurav Minocha

Ways to keep heart healthy - Dr Gaurav Minocha

World Heart Day: Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Indians are more prone to heart attacks at a younger age. There are no easy quick fixes, but a few tips can help you prevent a heart event if you are disciplined enough to make these habits last. It is very important to be aware of your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and most important to keep them in range. High blood pressure and high cholesterol or sugar can damage your heart and blood vessels. But the issue is that they go unnoticed because you might not know that you are facing it unless you get it tested. The only way to keep a check is to get yourself tested regularly. Yearly check-up to detect it is the only way out.

A healthy diet and lifestyle contribute to a healthy heart. On the occasion of World Heart Day 2020, here are the 5 mantras that can help you boost heart health.

Ways to boost heart health

1. Exercise

  • Regular, daily exercise can lower your risk of heart disease. Exercising regularly can be advantageous as it helps in controlling the weight, even reduce stress the chances of putting stain on your heart, can control your blood pressure, cholesterol and even diabetes. Aim for 30 minutes moderate aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking or cycling.
  • You should get your heart rate up so that you feel somewhat breathless, but can still carry on a conversation.
  • Not necessary that exercise can only be helpful when you sweat a lot. Though this does help yet even the shorter bouts can be beneficial. Moving for just 5 minutes or getting involved in small activities such as gardening, housekeeping, or using stair instead of lift can also do wonders. But to get bigger benefits, increase the intensity of your workout along with duration, and frequency. Caution will be to start slowing and avoid sudden over strenuous and unaccustomed exercises.
  • You can combine walking or other aerobic activity with strength and stretching exercises.

2. Eat a heart-healthy diet

A healthy diet can help you in improving the overall health of your heart. It can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce your risk of diabetes. Choose foods that are rich in nutrition, not just empty calories. Avoid sugary drinks and fast food.

Balance calories: Balancing the amount of calorie intake and the calories that your body needs is very important.

A heart-healthy eating plan includes:

  • Vegetables and fruits 200 to 400 g daily
  • Beans or other legumes
  • Lean meats and fish
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts up to 20-30 g daily as snacks

Limit intake of the following:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Processed carbohydrates
  • Alcohol
  • Saturated fat (found in red meat and full-fat dairy products) and trans fat (found in fried fast food, chips, baked goods)

3. Quit Smoking

  • One of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking or use of tobacco. If you do not smoke, avoid secondhand smoke too.
  • It is one of the most common risk factors for heart disease especially in the young. Many having heart attacks in their 30 s or 40s are smokers.
  • Tobacco contains chemicals that can lead to damage in your heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke increases your blood pressure and heart rate and makes blood more prone to clotting.

4. Change a sedentary lifestyle

  • It is really essential to be physically active on a consistent basis and have less sedentary time, as inactivity can lead to high blood pressure (often with no symptoms) which damages the walls of the blood vessels and increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • It is often advised that one should have an adequate amount of sleep. A quality sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. Not getting enough sleep may put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits.

5. Get a Medical Checkup

  • Getting a health check will help you get an update on your current health status including your numbers and if you need a follow-up with a doctor.
  • Since heart disease takes a long time to develop there can be a long asymptomatic period. These can be detected only with advanced tests which will be prescribed based on your basic tests.
  • If multiple risk factors are detected, your doctor may choose to put you on long term preventive medicines especially statins which lower cholesterol and improve arterial health and prevent heart attacks and stroke.
  • Disciplined follow-up and taking medicines if required will go a long way in avoiding heart attacks and prolonging the life.

(Dr Gaurav Minocha Associate Director - Cardiology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali)

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