World Health Day: 10 expert tips for a healthier heart
This World Health Day, get your heart in shape for a healthier, happier you!
India is in the middle of a triple-epidemic -- an epidemic of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension), High Blood Sugar (Diabetes) and High Blood Cholesterol (Dyslipidemia). This ‘terrible trio’ translates into future cardio-vascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Here are some heart-healthy tips by our expert Dr Nihar Mehta, Consultant Cardiologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre that will help keep your heart health this World Health Day
Physical activity: ‘Sitting is the new smoking’. Being sedentary can be dangerous to your health. Moderate intensity of aerobic exercise is recommended for 30-45 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week to stay healthy. This includes walking, cycling, swimming or running.
Diet: ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’; we can modify this to ‘The way to a man’s heartdisease is though his stomach’. Staying off junk food, processed food, butter, cheese, fast food and desserts is the need of the hour.
Eat frutis and vegetables: Beyond discussing what you should not eat, it is better that you ensure you are eating the correct things. 2-3 fruits and 2-3 bowls of vegetables per day are recommended to prevent heart disease. Fruit juices should be avoided, as should overcooking vegetables.
Yoga and meditation: India is the home of Yoga. Yogic practices and meditation can lead to reduced levels of psychosocial stress, blood pressure and cardiovascular parameters.
Give up using tobacco: Tobacco is inherent to Indian culture. It is used in several forms, smoking cigarettes / bidis, chewed, brushed or added to paan. Tobacco consumption directly leads to heart attacks. Giving up tobacco is imperative.
Restrict alcohol consumption: Up to a certain limit, alcohol can have benefits to the heart but beyond this it can be disastrous. No more than 2 standard drinks a day for men and 1 standard drink a day for women; 1 standard drink is equivalent to 25 ml spirits (e.g., whisky, brandy, vodka) or 125 ml (one standard glass) wine or 340 ml beer. Don’t go beyond these numbers.
Exercise, but not too much: Anything in excess is not healthy. While exercising up to the recommendations given above is desired, in case you are embarking on intensive physical training or marathon running, please get a prior cardiac evaluation. Ever so often we hear of the athlete who suddenly collapsed or the sudden death of a young man in the gym or a fit marathon runner dropping dead… Underlying cardiac problems should be ruled out before starting strenuous physical training.
Reduce stress: In our maximum city, Mumbaikars face stress at every turn. With lives moving in fast-forward, stress is a omnipresent. Any measures taken to prevent stress will benefit the cardiac status. This could be listening to music, spending time with family, going for drives, watching a movie or sitting at marine drive… whatever works for you… do it regularly.
Mental Health: We often stress on the physical aspect and neglect the mental aspect of health. Depression is rampant in our city and one of the recognized risk factors for heart disease. With worsening work pressures and dwindling family time, added to the financial stress of sustaining the constant inflation in prices, depression is often lurking around in all members of the family including children. It’s time we put aside the taboos associated with mental disease and get the help we need from psychologists and psychiatrists, without inhibition.
Get regular health checkups: The terrible trio have spread this far because they are symptomless! Hypertension, Diabetes and High Cholesterol rarely produce any problems, but are detected on a routine check up or incidentally when doing test for other things. What is before us is just the tip of the iceberg. Regular checkups will ensure earlier detection and earlier treatment of these conditions before they produce complications.