Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) can strike with surprise when you least expect them. What is worse is that they do not bring about any obvious symptoms until much later. Statistics indicate that CVDs are the number one cause of death globally and responsible for over 2.1 million deaths per year in India alone. The burden of heart diseases is rapidly increasing primarily due to a stressful and sedentary way of life. Given the rise of a workaholic culture among the millennials that has thrown daily life off balance, the prevalence of heart conditions is slowly drifting towards the lower age spectrum. However, studies show that 80% of CVDs including heart failure, heart attack and stroke are preventable.
Who is at risk?
While earlier, CVDs were attributed to ageing, statistics from around the world indicate that it is affecting a relatively younger population in developing countries like India. The reason for this is lack of proper nutrition, diet, and access to medical care. Demographic studies show that the rate of cardiac ailments is highest among south Asians, especially Indians. The risk group includes those who are above the age of 45, people with a family history of heart disease and those with other lifestyle conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Blame it on the lifestyle
The villain that has been silently choking up our arteries may well be the birthday cake, chicken wings and cheese popcorn. The whole lifestyle that orients around late night dinners and heavy lunches and poor breakfasts is to blame. For some, it is the lack of awareness and for others, it is about the desire to change that takes them away from simple preventive measures.
Prevention is the best medicine
Matters of the heart have never been easy. Fortunately, preventing heart diseases is entirely in your hands. Some ways one can avert heart ailments include the following.
- Eat healthy: It is time to steer clear of those fried goodies and restrict your sweet tooth to festive indulgences. Your daily diet must include plenty of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, oily fish, nuts and seeds, and complex carbohydrates.
- Keep your weight under control: According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 13% of the world population is obese. Studies show that a 10 kg weight spike increases a person’s chance of coronary heart disease by 12%. Exercising at least for 30 minutes 5 days a week or walking 10,000 steps everyday can bring down your risk of heart disease.
- Keep a check on your cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. These diseases can be easily controlled with a proper diet, moderate exercise and monitoring vital statistics such as blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Cut down on smoking and alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can cause spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Though easier said than done, quitting smoking and cutting down on liquor can do wonders for your body.
- Manage stress: Stress is a major contributor to heart diseases. Keep stress at bay by making meditation, mindfulness practice and yoga a part of everyday life.
- Regular screening: Heart diseases are a silent killer. Any problems that do not present symptoms yet can be checked during regular preventive care routines. Age appropriate annual preventive healthcare is a must for prevention and early detection of many major diseases including cardiac problems. Nowadays, it has become possible to check vital health statistics at home with the help of portable devices. These can be instrumental in timely diagnosis of heart diseases and therefore on-time management.
Apart from curative care, CVD management requires a holistic approach that places high emphasis on preventive care. Little lifestyle modifications can reflect greatly on your life in the long run. There is a need for building greater awareness among people about heart diseases and their prevention. The best solution to beatingCVDs is to take better care of your heart before it stops beating.
(Disclaimer: The writer is Rahul Rastogi, Co-Founder and CEO, Agatsa. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)