Improve Your Health And Heart This World Heart Day!
Every year the 29th of September is celebrated as the World Heart Day, in an effort to raise awareness about various cardiovascular diseases and heart ailments that are becoming increasingly common these days. This campaign informs people how they can look after their own hearts and that of others by making certain simple alterations to their lifestyle and everyday schedules.
Today’s fast-paced urban lifestyle is making it increasingly difficult for people to stay healthy and fit. Busy schedules, newer technologies, lack of family and social life and stressful work environment has created human machines that keep on functioning until they break. This is primarily why cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are becoming more and more common in India today. In fact, research reveals that heart ailments are the top reason for mortality in the country, with 73% of the urban population at risk of suffering from one or the other heart diseases.
Even though Bangalore has good access to fresh fruits and vegetables along with quality whole grains and foods, about 3 out of 4 Bangalorean’s above the age of 30 are likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. Kolkata, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad top the list and are among the worst affected cities when it comes to heart disease.
What is more shocking is the fact that CVDs are not only common in metropolises and cities of the country, but also largely affect the rural population. This is primarily because of excess tobacco use in rural areas along with poor diets that lack essential fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the rural population do not have access to effective medical care and treatment, resulting in greater deaths because of heart attack or stroke.
A heart attack is one of the most common cause of death in the country. It occurs when blood stops flowing to the heart due to a blockage in one or more blood vessels. Heart attack is the life threatening emergency. Timely identification and treatment with percutaneous intervention could save lives. A mild blockage can be treated with medicine, but doctors recommend a percutaneous coronary intervention or a bypass surgery for major blockages.
Heart failure is another problem that a number of Indians suffer from. This condition weakens the heart, making it difficult for it to pump sufficient blood to all parts of the body. Heart failure may occur due to high blood pressure or because of coronary heart disease. It can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, appetite loss etc. Once the underlying cause of heart failure is established, treatment may be offered in the form of medication or a medical procedure.
Atrial Fibrillation is a heart ailment that results in an abnormal heartbeat, which can result in a stroke or even heart failure. There are about 10 million cases of Atrial Fibrillation registered in India annually. This chronic condition can improve with medication and certain lifestyle changes. Regular exercise and a balanced nutritious diet is the key to living with Atrial Fibrillation.
Congenital heart disease is also quite common in the country and refers to certain heart defects present from birth. The symptoms of this condition may appear at birth or even during childhood, but in many cases, they do not appear until one becomes an adult. While most congenital heart diseases are genetic, they may also occur because of a foetal infection. Defects that are extremely mild may not require any treatment and improve or disappear as the child grows. Major defects are mostly treated by surgery during infancy. These days, about 80% of children suffering from congenital heart disease successfully lead normal lives without any complications or lifestyle restrictions.
Aorta diseases, cardiomyopathy, vascular diseases and heart valve problems have also been recorded in the country.
While there are a number of medicines and procedures that help to fight heart diseases and ailments, research has revealed that a healthy lifestyle and good food can go a long way in preventing or controlling heart conditions.
Some foods that will keep your heart healthy and fit include oatmeal which is considered a powerhouse of nutrients, fish and other forms of seafood rich in Omega 3 fat, flax seeds, dark beans like kidney and black beans that have high fibre and mineral content, vegetables like carrots and spinach, fruits like oranges, papayas and cantaloupe etc.
Along with a nutritious diet regular exercise in form of yoga, jogging, gyming or playing a sport is a must. Exercise will increase blood circulation and make your heart stronger.
This heart day, make a promise to keep your heart in the pink of health- get more active, eat a balanced diet and quit smoking. When you realise the importance of a strong and healthy heart, you can encourage others to stay fit and look after their hearts as well.
Dr. Mohan Kumar HN , Consultant
Interventional Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Sarjapur Road