For a Healthy Heart

Dr Sushil K Sharma
World Heart Day takes place on 29th September every year and is the World Heart Federation’s and the world’s biggest platform for raising awareness about cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke. Each year’s celebration has a different theme reflecting key issues and topics relating to heart health. This year, our global campaign focuses on looking after My Heart, For your Heart, For all our Hearts.
This year on World Heart Day, as part of our mission to ensure heart health equity for all, we want to create a global community of Heart Heroes … people from all walks of life who are acting now to live longer, better, heart-healthy lives by making a promise:

world heart day on sept 29

* A promise to our families to cook and eat more healthily
* A promise as a healthcare professional to help patients give up smoking and lower their cholesterol
* A promise as a policymaker to support policies that promote healthy hearts
* A promise as an employee to invest in heart-healthy workplaces
Heart attack warning signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are some signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
* Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
* Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
* Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
* Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Heart attacks often manifest themselves differently in women than in men. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Know Your Numbers:
Blood Pressure : High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for CVD. It’s called the ‘silent killer’ because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it. . You should have a blood pressure test performed at least once every two years to screen for high blood pressure as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, starting at age 18.
If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re between the ages of 18 and 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your physician for a blood pressure reading every year. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
Diabetes: People living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease .Diabetes is a major global health threat. It affects 1 in 11 adults … 425 million people with the overall figure predicted to rise to 629 million by 2045. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% of all people with diabetes. All of those living with diabetes are at heightened risk of CVD making the prevention of CVD onset a major priority.
Diabetes can damage your blood vessels and nerves. People with type 2 diabetes might also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are overweight. These increase the chances of getting heart disease. The longer you live with diabetes, the higher your risk of heart disease and stroke
For adults at age 60, having type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease shortens life expectancy by an average of 12 years.
Cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is associated with around 4 million deaths per year so visit your healthcare professional and ask them to measure your levels, as well as your weight and body mass index (BMI). They’ll then be able to advise on your CVD risk so you can plan to improve your heart health.
By making just a few small changes to our lives, we can all live longer, better, more heart-healthy lives
A simple promise … for MY HEART, for YOUR HEART, for ALL OUR HEARTS.
Promise to eat well and drink wisely
* Cut down on sugary beverages and fruit juices – choose water or unsweetened juices instead
* Swap sweet, sugary treats for fresh fruit as a healthy alternative
* Try to eat 5 portions (about a handful each) of fruit and veg a day – they can be fresh, frozen, tinned and dried.
* Keep the amount of alcohol you drink within recommended guidelines
* Try to limit processed and prepackaged foods that are often high in salt, sugar and fat
* Make your own healthy school or work lunches at home
* Promise to get more active
* Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 times a week
* Or at least 75 minutes spread throughout the week of vigorous-intensity activity
* Be more active every day – take the stairs, walk or cycle instead of driving, Running , Jogging , Swimming , Cycling are heart friendly exercises.
* Exercise with friends and family – you’ll be more motivated and it’s more fun!
* Promise to say No to smoking
* It’s the single best thing you do to improve your heart health
* Within 2 years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is substantially reduced
* Within 15 years the risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker
* Exposure to secondhand smoke is also a cause of heart disease in non-smokers
* So by quitting (or not starting in the first place) you’ll not only improve your health but that of those around you.
* Manage Stress. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice techniques for managing stress, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
* Deal with Depression. Being depressed can increase your risk of heart disease significantly. Talk to your doctor if you feel hopeless or uninterested in your life.
* Practice Good Hygiene. Stay away from people with infectious diseases such as colds, get vaccinated against the flu, regularly wash your hands, and brush and floss your teeth regularly to keep yourself well.
(The author is Head Deptt. Of Cardiology, GMC Jammu.)
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