Protect Your Heart

World Heart Day is an annual event which takes place on 29th September every year. Each year’s celebration has a different theme reflecting key issues and topics relating to heart health. This years’ theme is Share the Power.

The World Heart Day celebration plays a very important role to raise awareness and encourage individuals, families, communities and governments to take action preventive action to contain this global pandemic. Together everybody has the power to reduce the premature deaths from, and burden of, Cardio Vascular Diseases, helping people everywhere to live longer, better and heart-healthy lives.
About Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the leading cause of death and disability in the world today: over 17.5 million people die from cardiovascular disease every year. Ischemic heart disease (e.g. heart attacks) is responsible for 7.3 million of the total CVD deaths and cerebrovascular disease (e.g. stroke) is responsible for 6.2 million of the total CVD deaths. This makes it the number one cause of death in the world today. Out of the 17 million premature deaths (under the age of 70) due to non communicable diseases in 2015, 82% are in low- and middle-income countries, and 37% are caused by CVDs.

Any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessel constitutes a cardiovascular disease. The most prevalent cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (e.g. heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (e.g. stroke). Controlling key risk factors such as diet, physical activity, tobacco use and blood pressure may reduce your risk for CVD.

Protect your Heart
Most of the major cardiovascular disease risk factors can be controlled. Here are a few tips on how to control those risk factors and protect your heart:

  1. Get Active: At least 30-45 minute of moderate physical activity on most (and preferably all days of the week) Running, Jogging, swimming , Cycling are good exercises for heart.
    Stop smoking and protect yourself from tobacco: If you stop smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time. Urge avoidance of exposure to second hand smoke at work or home.
  2. Eat Healthy: Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a variety of whole grain products, lean meat, fish, peas, beans, lentils, and foods low in saturated fats. Be wary of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt. Try to avoid drinking alcohol or if you do drink, make sure it is in moderation. Drink lots of water.
  3. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Keeping a healthy weight and limiting your salt intake will help to control your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. A good way to keep track of a healthy weight is to use BMI (Body-Mass Index) which is a measure of how much body fat is on a person based on their height or weight. To calculate your BMI, you divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height squared (in meters). A healthy adult should keep his or her BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m
    Get regular health screenings
  4. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.
  5. Blood pressure. Regular blood pressure screenings usually start in childhood. You should have a blood pressure test performed at least once every two years to screen for high blood pressure as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, starting at age 18.
  6. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re between the ages of 18 and 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
  7. Cholesterol levels: Adults should generally have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 18. Earlier testing may be recommended if you have other risk factors, such as a family history of early-onset heart disease.
  8. Diabetes screening: Since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened for diabetes. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a fasting blood sugar test or haemoglobin A1C test to check for diabetes.
  9. Manage Stress: Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice techniques for managing stress, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
  10. Deal with Depression: Being depressed can increase your risk of heart disease significantly. Talk to your doctor if you feel hopeless or uninterested in your life.
  11. Practice Good Hygiene: Stay away from people with infectious diseases such as colds, get vaccinated against the flu, regularly wash your hands, and brush and floss your teeth regularly to keep yourself well.
    Innovations in stent technology, advances in adjunctive pharmacotherapy, development of mechanical circulatory support devices coupled with refinement of interventional techniques and increasing operator experience have greatly improved the safety and effectiveness of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. However, working on preventive aspect of the prevalence of Cardiovascular Diseases seems to be more promising and cost effective.

(The author is HoD Cardiology, GMC, Jammu)


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