Dr Promod Kumar Rao, DM Cardiology, Omni Hospital
Heart disease continues to be a formidable public health challenge, casting a long shadow over our well-being. However, the good news is that, for the most part, it is a preventable condition. By adopting and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle, we can reduce the possibilities of heart disease significantly and enhance our overall quality of life. Let’s dive deep into some practical strategies to embrace and sustain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Heart disease is alarmingly widespread. According to a multi-centric national survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research (NCDIR), About 28.5 per cent of adults in India are hypertensive, a condition that, when uncontrolled, can lead to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, pregnancy complications, heart failure, kidney disease, and even cognitive decline in later life. Astonishingly, only one in four individuals with high blood pressure manages to keep it under control below the recommended threshold of 130/80. Clearly, there is a pressing need for proactive measures to tackle this pervasive health issue.
1. Know Your Health History: Understanding your risk is the first step toward a heart-ty lifestyle. Talk to your family and your doctor about your health history. This information can help you make informed decisions about your lifestyle and healthcare choices.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet: The saying, “You are what you eat,” holds true when it comes to heart health. Opt for a nutrition plan that emphasizes the consumption of ample fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Minimize your intake of salt, saturated fats, and added sugars. A well-balanced diet is the cornerstone of cardiovascular health.
3. Move More, Sit Less: Regular physical activity is vital for maintaining a healthy heart. Focus on at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Additionally, include muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. Even small steps, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can contribute to a healthier heart.
4. Quit Smoking: One of the major risk factors for heart disease is smoking. If you’re a smoker, consider calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free assistance to kick the habit. Quitting smoking is one of the most significant steps that can help in improving your heart health.
5. Take Medicines as directed and prescribed: If you have conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions diligently. Don’t shy away from asking questions if something is unclear, and never discontinue medication without consulting your healthcare provider.
6. Choose Your Drinks Wisely: Replace sugary drinks with water to reduce calorie intake. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation, limiting consumption to no more than one drink for women and two for men on days when alcohol is consumed. Pregnant individuals should abstain from alcohol entirely.
7. Keep a Track on Your Blood Pressure at Home: Self-measured blood pressure monitors are safe and easy to use. Your doctor can demonstrate how to use one if needed. Regular monitoring empowers you to track your heart health proactively.
On World Heart Day, celebrated on September 29th, the theme for this year is “Use Heart for Every Heart.” This emphasizes the importance of showing compassion and care for our own hearts and the hearts of those around us. It’s a reminder that heart health is a shared responsibility and a cause worth championing.
In conclusion, the journey to a heart-healthy lifestyle begins with awareness and action. By adopting these practical strategies and making them a part of your daily routine, you can significantly lower your risk of developing a heart disease and enjoy a longer, healthier life. Remember, your heart is your most precious asset; use it wisely and care for it diligently.