Keep your heart healthy

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 our own hearts, and the hearts of our loved ones: My Heart, Your Heart.

Today is world Heart day

It’s about saying to ourselves, the people we care about and individuals all around the world, “what can I do right now to look after MY HEART and YOUR HEART?” It also resonates with the professional cardiology and healthcare audiences who dedicate themselves to looking after ALL OUR HEARTS. The main call to action for this year’s campaign is to make a promise. A promise as an individual to get more active, say no to smoking or eat more healthily as a healthcare professional to save more lives or as a policymaker to implement a non communicable disease (NCD) action plan
Heart attack warning signs
When the burden of ischemia is significant, patient may present with syncope or cardiac arrest. 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 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 cold sweat, nausea, Palpitation and 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.
Risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease:
There are many risk factors associated with coronary heart disease and stroke. Some risk factors, such as family history, cannot be modified, while other risk factors, like high blood pressure, can be modified with treatment.
You will not necessarily develop cardiovascular disease if you have a risk factor. But the more risk factors you have the greater the likelihood that you will, unless you take action to modify your risk factors and work to prevent them compromising your heart health.
Modifiable risk factors include:
* Physical inactivity
* Unhealthy diet
* Raised blood pressure
* Tobacco use
* Cholesterol
* Obesity and being overweight
* Diabetes
Non-modifiable risk factors include:
* Family history
* Age: Simply getting old is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease; risk of stroke doubles every decade after age 55.
* Gender: Your gender is significant: as a man you are at greater risk of heart disease than a pre-menopausal woman. But once past the menopause, a woman’s risk is similar to a man’s. Risk of stroke is similar for men and women.
* Know your Numbers to stay healthy.
* 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).
* 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.
* Diabetes : High blood glucose (blood sugar) can be indicative of diabetes. CVD accounts for the majority of deaths in people with diabetes so if it’s left undiagnosed and untreated it can put you at increased risk of heart disease and stroke. People with diabetes should be more cautious about symptoms of Heart diseases . Diabetes effects not only coronary arteries but it effects heart muscle and peripheral circulation.
Blood Sugar Levels Chart
Category Fasting value Post prandial / aka post meal Minimum Maximum 2 hours after meal
Normal 70 mg/dl 100 mg/dl Less than 140 mg/dl 4 mmol/l 6 mmol/l Less than 7.8 mmol/l
Pre-diabetes 101 mg/dl 125 mg/dl 140-200 mg/dl 6.1 mmol/l 6.9 mmol/l 7.8-11.1 mmol/l Diabetes
More than 126 mg/dl More than 200 More than 7 mmol/l More than 11.1 mmol/l
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
* 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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