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World Heart Day: Understanding heart related diseases

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In India, people start their day at seven to eight am in the morning, and they get back home at similar time in the evening. Most of the people live a sedentary lifestyle, spending most of the days staring at a laptop or at a computer. There is very little time for physical exercise.

Heart flownThat’s where a lot of these health concerns are growing, and they are coming in fairly young, so a lot of people in their early 30’s, late 30’s, early 40’s are beginning to get these problems because of the lifestyle that we are living in.

India leads the world in rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Though, Indians have started taking baby steps towards living a healthy lifestyle, there are still a lot that needs to be done on health front. We need to understand the importance of healthy heart in our lives. The heart is the pump at the center of the body’s circulation system. This ensures that fresh blood, containing oxygen and nutrients, is delivered throughout the whole body, and carbon dioxide and waste products are taken away.

To live a healthy life, we need a healthy heart. There are few things that can put your heart at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease-

Age – For men, the risk of heart disease goes up after age 55; for women, the risk rises sharply after menopause.
Being inactive
Family history of coronary heart disease
Genetics
High blood pressure
High levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol or low levels of HDL “good” cholesterol
Obesity
Smoking
Stress

Heart disease symptoms differ from person to person. Those who experience chest pain or shortness of breath have a chance to receive life-saving treatment in a hospital. For others, sudden cardiac arrest and death are the first symptoms of heart disease they experience. Many people with heart disease notice symptoms during physical exertion or exercise. The heart needs more oxygen and nutrients during physical exertion, so people with heart disease may notice symptoms when they are active.

Symptoms of heart disease may include-

Jaw pain
Chest pain
Back pain(typically left-sided)
Shortness of breath

Family history, genetics and age are a few factors we can’t do anything about but we certainly can do right things from right age to avoid the worst to come. As mentioned earlier, we live a very sedentary lifestyle where we don’t have any space for self-care. We sit in front of our computer and welcome as much stress as we can in our lives. With stress at its peak and with sun settling down in the west, we crave for snacks and end up eating things that are deep fried and unhealthy.

Eating heart-healthy foods can reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart-healthy foods include fruits, and vegetables. Cholesterol-lowering foods such as beans, soy, chickpeas, garlic, avocados, and olive oil are beneficial. Boost levels of HDL “good” cholesterol by eating nuts. With the right kind of food for a healthy body and heart, one needs to do right kind of exercise viz weight training and cardio. Only eating right kind of food can’t help you to get rid of bad fat, cholesterol and stress.

With the increasing risk of cardiovascular disease and stress diseases, we need to focus more on our body. It doesn’t need much from a person to live with a healthy heart- just a disciplined food and lifestyle with a pinch of exercise and you stay healthy forever.

(Disclaimer: This article is authored by Vikas Jain, MD, Anytime Fitness)

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