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World Heart Day: Risk factors and silent signs of heart ailments

World Heart Day

Heart ailments happen to be one of the most common burdens of disease in India. In fact, cardiovascular disease is one of the top killers not just in the country but in the entire world, as per the latest estimates. The raging pandemic has made the situation even worse and this is the time to take more care of the heart. While we are pretty much aware of the common risk factors of heart ailments like unhealthy foods, lack of exercise, smoking, hypertension and more, there are certain unusual factors that may hurt the heart. Due to our lack of awareness about these strange causes, we tend to ignore them. As we observe the World Heart Day on September 29, it is essential we look into these odd risk factors that may affect our heart.

Odd risk factors causing heart ailments

Migraine: Several studies have found that those suffering from migraine may have higher risk of suffering from a stroke, chest pain and heart attacks. Those with migraine and a family history of heart disease may be extra cautious about taking medicines called triptans for migraine as they are known to narrow blood vessels and increase the risk of heart ailments.

Noise: It could be the volume of the humming of a refrigerator or a friendly chat or traffic noise, any noise starting at around 50 decibels can increase the likelihood of a stroke or a heart attack. Studies show that for each 10-decibel rise in noise, the risk of heart failure goes up. It is closely linked to the way the body reacts to noise-induced stress.

Also read: World Heart Day: Cardiovascular disease management during Covid-19

Menstruation and complications in the reproductive organs: It has been observed that women with advanced onset of menstruation and early menopause are at a greater chance of developing heart conditions. Those who get their first period before 12 or stop having period before they are 47 are likely to have a stroke or any other heart disease. Also, a woman’s risk of heart complication increases if she has had a miscarriage or ovaries and uterus removed.

Loneliness: Amid the raging pandemic, as we have been compelled to stay indoors, the concern of loneliness has increased manifold. It not only affects our minds but also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, as much as passive smoking does, reveals a study. Being unhappy and feeling alone are linked to high blood pressure and other triggers of stress, thereby increasing the chance of developing heart complications.

Prolonged working hours: Those spending long hours at work may have a greater risk of suffering from heart disease. People spending 55 hours per week at work are more prone to develop cardiac issues compared to those who work for 35 to 40 hours. This could be because of more stress, staying physically inactive for a prolonged period of time and more.

Gum disease: Gum disease may also be indicative of eventual heart conditions. Why? Because bacteria from the mouth, including periodontal disease may enter the blood and cause inflammation in the lining of the arteries which can result in atherosclerosis or fatty build-up in the arteries.

Be watchful about these symptoms

Heart attacks may come with different symptoms for different people. However, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack in order to be able to detect it at the earliest. Some of these symptoms include pressure, tightness, pain or a squeezing or aching sensation in the chest or arms that may spread to the neck, jaw and back, nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, cold sweat, fatigue, lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.

Reducing the risk

Controlling blood pressure, keeping cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control, managing the body weight appropriately, eating the right food, getting daily exercise, limiting consumption of alcohol, quitting smoke and managing stress could be some of the ways by which the risk of cardiac ailments could be reduced.

While some may have mid pain during a heart attack, others may experience severe pain and some may have no symptoms at all. This is why it is imperative to be aware of the strange risk factors, silent symptoms and take precautions against the common risk factors that may result in any kind of heart complications.

(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Sreekanth B Shetty, Senior Consultant and Head of Interventional Cardiology, Sakra World Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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