Dr Nikhil Mahajan
A lot of Bollywood movies and songs have been made with the title ‘Dil”, however the purpose of ‘Dil’ or Heart is very different in a human body from what has been extrapolated by Bollywood. Heart is a muscular organ about the size of fist situated left of center in our chest. It acts as a pump in the body which collects oxygen poor blood from the body and pumps Oxygen rich blood to tissues throughout the body. The pump can’t stop working even for a few seconds.
In a country where every second person after the age of sixty is a heart patient, it is very important to discuss the various causes of heart Ailments, early symptoms of a heart problem, its diagnosis and treatment and ways to keep a heart healthy.
Some of the major causes of increased incidence of heart diseases these days are sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excess intake of alcohol or caffeine, stress and drug abuse. Also, the diabetic patients are at an increased risk of heart ailments and some patients have congenital heart ailments. The congenital heart diseases usually develop when the baby is in womb and may manifest itself years after a normal life. Apart from these listed causes there are certain risk factors which make an individual more susceptible to heart ailments such as aging, family history, sex (men are at higher risk of heart diseases), poor diet, obesity, High Blood Pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, the people having any of risk factors should take extra care of their heart and should undergo regular check up for early detection of heart ailments.
Since the incidence of heart disease is so high in our country, it is very important for us to know the early symptoms of a heart disease so that we can consult a doctor on time to avoid any mishap. The usual early symptoms of a heart diseases are fatigue, breathlessness, chest Pain, swollen feet and ankles, irregular heartbeat and fainting. In case of any of these events we must rush to a doctor for advice and diagnosis. The heart pain is usually caused by built up of fatty plaques in the arteries. This plaque stiffens and thickens the artery walls which inhibit blood flow through arteries to different organs and tissues. This situation often causes cardiac arrest which can be fatal and it may also permanently destroy a part of heart muscle. First 12 hours in such situation are often called the golden period because with the right diagnosis and treatment, the person’s heart can be saved from any permanent damage in first 12 hours. So, acute heart pain should always be treated as a medical emergency.
Now, lets discuss various ways to keep our heart healthy in the long run. The first and foremost way to a healthy heart is a healthy lifestyle which include at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of week. Exercise can help you control diabetes, blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and also maintain a healthy weight which are all risk factors for heart disease. Quit smoking as it is one of the biggest risk factor for a heart ailment. Eating healthy food with low saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar will surely go a long in keeping your heart healthy. Last but not the least is to add more laughter in your day and focus on positive things in your life as it contributes not only to the general well being but also keeps away stress and depression which are major risk factors for heart ailments.
(The author is Associate Consultant Cardiology, Narayana Hospital)
Dr Nikhil Mahajan