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World Heart Day: How to help prevent heart disease at any age

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You’re never too young— or too old — to take care of your heart. Preventing heart disease means making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life. No matter what your age, everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and adequate physical activity.

  • Choose a healthy eating plan. The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.  As part of a healthy diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish

  • Be physically active. You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week.

Children should get at least 60 minutes of activity every day.

  • It’s never too early or too late to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness with a stroke or severe chest pain with a heart attack. And heart attack symptoms can be different than men.

IN YOUR 20s

Getting smart about your heart early on puts you far ahead of the curve. The things you do — and don’t — are a tell-tale sign of how long and how well you’re going to live, says,,,,,

  • Find a doctor and have regular wellness exams. Healthy people need doctors, too. Establishing a relationship with a physician means you can start heart-health screenings Talk to your doctor about your diet, lifestyle and checking your blood pressure, cholesterol hear trate body mass index
  • Be physically active. It’s a lot easier to be active and stay active if you start at a young age.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. If you picked up smoking as a teen, it’s time to quit smoking.

IN YOUR 30s

Juggling family and career leaves many adults with little time to worry about their hearts. Here are some ways to balance all three.

  • Make heart-healthy living a family affair. Create and sustain heart-healthy habits in your kids and you’ll reap the benefits, too. Spend less time on the couch and more time on the move. Explore a nearby park on foot or bike. Use stairs instead of the lift.
  • Know your family history. Shake down your family tree to learn about heart health. Having a relative with heart disease increases your risk, and more so if the relative is a parent or sibling.
  • Tame your stress. Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls.

Learning stress management techniques not only benefits your body, but also your quality of life.

IN YOUR 40s

If heart health hasn’t been a priority, don’t worry. Healthy choices you make now can strengthen your heart for the long haul.

  • Watch your weight. You may notice your metabolism slowing down in your 40s. But you can avoid weight gain by following a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercises. The trick is to find a workout routine you enjoy.
  • Have your blood sugar level checked. In addition to blood pressure checks and other heart-health screenings,

This first test serves as a baseline for future tests, which you should have every three years.

  • Don’t brush off snoring. Listen to your sleeping partner’s complaints about your snoring. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

IN YOUR 50s

Unlike the emergence of wrinkles and gray hair, what you can’t see as you get older is the impact aging has on your heart. So starting in the 50s, you need to take extra steps.

  • Eat a healthy diet. It’s easy to slip into some unhealthy eating habits, so refresh your eating habits by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish(preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat.
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Now is the time to get savvy about symptoms.
  • Follow your treatment plan. By now, you may have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or other conditions that increase your risk for heart disease or stroke.

Lower your risk by following your prescribed treatment plan, including medications and lifestyle and diet changes.

IN YOUR 60s

With age comes an increased risk of heart disease. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart-related numbers tend to rise. Watching your numbers closely and managing any health problems that arise — along with the requisite healthy eating and exercise — can help you live longer and better.

  • Have anankle-brachial index test. Starting in your 60s, it’s a good idea to get an ankle-brachial index test as part of a physical exam.
  • Watch your weight. Your body needs fewer calories as you get older. Excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Exercising regularly and eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods may help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Be in regular check with your doctor

(Disclaimer:  Dr Sai Sudhakar, Chief Cardiac Transplant Physician, Senior Interventional Cardiologist and Director, Cath Lab, Gleneagles Global Hospital, Lakdikapul. Views expressed are personal opinion.)

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