Use your heart to beat cardiovascular diseases

Dr Sushil K. Sharma
About World Heart Day
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 Use Your Heart to beat cardiovascular diseases which is about using your head, your influence and your compassion to create awareness regarding the cardiovascular diseases in terms of prevention and treatment.
To understand what it takes to live a heart healthy life and to act on that knowledge, changing your behaviour for a better quality of life now and in the future.
* As an individual to set an example for your loved ones.
* As a healthcare professional to help your patients make positive changes for their heart health.
* As an employer to invest in the heart health of your employees.
* As a Government to implement policies and initiatives that will lead to better societal heart health, such as sugar taxes, smoking bans and reducing air pollution.
* Compassion
* To look beyond the self and act in ways that support the most vulnerable in society; those with underlying heart-related conditions that may put them at greater risk in the time of COVID-19.
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.
There are three Components of Acute Coronary Syndrome
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 .
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, and decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular diseases
* 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
*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 quit 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.
By the beginning of 2020, when we heard of a novel coronavirus with potentially severe consequences, the race was on to learn everything we could and should about it. Before long, and with so much still to be discovered, an unfortunate trend emerged: COVID-19 posed a particular risk to patients with underlying issues such as heart disease, which is already the leading cause of death on the planet.
Also emerging was a worrying trend that heart patients, who would usually seek routine care or need to access emergency services for non-COVID-related issues, were avoiding hospitals and doctors. Across the board, countries noted this dramatic drop, attributing it to fear of contracting the virus.
CVD and COVID 19
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), at the root of coronavirus disease or COVID-19, has been claiming lives in ways as diverse as the patient complications observed. It is highly transmissible and strikes with varying forms of severity.
CVD and COVID-19
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients are more susceptible to severe COVID-19. Diseases affecting some form of heart condition or heart function include hypertension and diabetes, acute coronary syndrome, injury to muscles tissues of the heart, (myocardial injury), heart failure, and less heard of but prevalent diseases such as rheumatic heart disease and Chagas disease.
Some key takeaways are:
o COVID-19 patients need to be triaged or designated for care based on disease severity so that patients with moderate and severe disease are admitted in a separate ward or hospital depending on the available infrastructure.
o Further, patients also need to be triaged based on underlying health risks such as hypertension, diabetes, prior cardiovascular or respiratory disease, kidney failure and cancer as part of the process to identify patients with a higher likelihood of developing a severe form of COVID-19 and implement targeted care.
* Special attention must be given to ensuring that there are separate facilities in place for dealing with COVID-19 cardiac patients and non-COVID-19 cardiac patients including catheterization laboratories for performing invasive heart examinations.
With the advent of latest advancements both on the practical and technological side viz., refinement of intervention techniques , increasing operator experience , changes in stent technology, devices for heart failure , advances in adjunctive pharmacotherapy, coupled with mechanical circulatory support devices have greatly enhanced the safety and effectiveness of intervention in people with heart disease.
Despite such evidence, however, cardiovascular diseases do not feature prominently on the health agenda of most developing countries, and many international organizations continue to focus on communicable diseases. This fact highlights the need to broaden the health focus of developing countries to incorporate the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, primarily heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Investment in cardiovascular disease prevention and control through population interventions is known to be effective in reducing cardiovascular mortality and morbidity in the setting of developed countries; similar trends can be expected for the developing world.
Wishes On World Heart Day