Monday, September 29, 2014

World Heart Day 2014: Celebrate this year’s theme, ‘Creating heart-healthy environments’. Here are 10 things that could probably lead to a heart attack that you should be aware off,

September 29 is the World Heart Day
       A 2010 Lancet paper on the Burden of Disease in India found that Indians are the most vulnerable group to cardiovascular diseases in the world. A genetic mutation combined with unhealthy lifestyles is responsible for this shocking finding. While there’s nothing we can do about genetic mutation, there are a number of things we can do to control lifestyle factors that cause heart disease.
To curb incidences of heart attack and prevent prevalence of heart disease in the country, it is crucial to keep in mind the following things and avoid them for the sake of your heart health. Here are 10 things that could probably lead to a heart attack that you should be aware off, 

Smoking incessantly
You might have heard it numerous times that smoking can kill and among other things it can lead to a heart attack. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking increases the chance of suffering from a coronary heart disease two to four times by reducing blood circulation due to narrowed arteries. Scarily, 92 million out of India’s 285 million smokers don’t even know that it’s bad for their heart. Moreover, according to statistics second hand smoke kills 6 lakh people every year out of which 1 lakh are children and 87% of deaths due to second-hand smoke are due to cardiovascular diseases.

Drinking alcohol, albeit moderately
Numerous studies have found that people, who drink moderately (330ml beer or 60 ml hard liquor – whiskey, vodka, etc. – and 100 ml wine) actually have better cardiovascular health than people who completely abstain from alcohol or people who tend to drink too much. What is not debatable is the fact that excessive drinking is tied to various cardiovascular issues like obesity, high blood pressure and increased risk to coronary artery disease. Binge drinking (drinking excessively in a short amount of time) is linked to poor cardiovascular health and increase chances of a heart attack.

Lack of exercise
Our current work-office-sedentary lifestyle has played a major part in the rise of cardiovascular diseases around the world. Lack of exercise leads to build-up of bad cholesterol which prevents the blood from flowing freely through the arteries, giving rise to hypertension, heart attacks, etc. Exercising plays a very important role in your cardiovascular health. It facilitates weight loss, lowers blood pressure, increases your good cholesterol level, improves blood circulation and allows your heart to pump more efficiently. In fact, it helps reduce stress also by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins.

Inadequate sleep
Initially, our body’s internal clock was adapted to the natural day-light schedule and exposure to artificial light, especially while night has thrown it off-track. This has also led to various kinds of sleep disorders which in turn impacts our appetite causing obesity, glucose metabolism and increase in blood pressure. This also increases the incidence of heart attack with time. It’s a vicious cycle, therefore getting enough sleep is very important to keep heart disease at bay.

Intake of saturated and trans-fats
They are two kinds of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are present in food items like butter, red meat, dairy products, chocolates, etc. and are known to raise ‘LDL’ or bad cholesterol levels, and most dieticians recommend limiting their intake. Trans-fats are unsaturated fats that have the same effect. Packaged and unprocessed food items usually contain a lot of trans-fats and that’s why nutritionists suggest avoiding them as they can put a strain on your heart health and lead to various kinds of heart diseases increasing your chance of heart attack.

Reduced intake of unsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids
Unsaturated fats are of two types – mono-unsaturated (olive oil, nuts, peanut oil) and poly-unsaturated (sesame, cotton seed and soya bean oils). Both types of unsaturated fats are known to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and boost up good cholesterol levels. Many dieticians suggest switching to olive oil or other healthier unsaturated oils for cooking for the same reason. On the other hand, omega 3 fatty acids are poly-saturated fats that are essential because they can’t be manufactured by the human body and are present in marine and plant oils. Good sources include fish oils, milk compounds, flax seeds and nuts.

Increased levels of stress
How stress causes heart diseases is still not clear, but most experts concede that it could part of a snowball effect of obesity, blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, lack of exercise, insomnia, etc. All the aforementioned conditions seem to go hand in hand with stress, and that’s why taking it easy is imperative for your heart and reduces chances of heart attacks. Take up a hobby, play with your children or take up meditation – anything that will keep stress at bay.

Uncontrolled intake of salt and sugar
While moderate intake of salt is necessary, too much is linked to various cardiovascular ailments, particularly hypertension. Most people end up consuming a lot of salt without realising it. This is because they aren’t actually separately adding table salt to their food and many food items might not taste salty but are high on salt content like, bread, butter, chips, packaged noodles, etc. However, all this plays a part in increasing your salt intake.
Sugar, on the other hand, is an infamous culprit. Experts believe that the easy availability of sugar is fuelling the global obesity pandemic because we are naturally geared to seek it for the glucose – our primary source of energy which was earlier available only through natural sources like fruits. The only solution is to cut down on sugar intake by limiting – cakes, milk shakes, sweets, sweetmeats, fizzy drinks, cookies and ice-cream – pretty much everything your heart desires is bad for it. Curb them and save your heart from an attack.

Consuming fewer vegetables and fruits
There’s compelling evidence to suggest that people who eat more greens and fruits significantly lower their bad cholesterol levels and this also improves their digestive system and metabolism allowing the body to function better. Most dieticians would tell you that you should get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in a day.

Avoiding regular check-ups
There is no alternative to being well informed. Get regular tests to check your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ECG test. Doctors suggest that one should start getting checked after one turns 30. People who experience any symptoms like chest pain, irregular heartbeats, and shortness of breath, dizziness or discomfort shouldn’t postpone a heart check

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