The number of Indians between the age of 30 to 40 suffering from heart attacks has increased in the past few years. This is a worrying trend, feels the medical community. As compared to the west, the risk of coronary heart disease in young Indians is 15-18 percent higher. Not only this, they are three to four times more likely to get a heart attack.
Kartik had to spend long hours on the desk due to his corporate job. The stress of overworking couples with an unhealthy lifestyle was taking its toll on him. He had no time for physical activity except thanks to the long commute to his workplace. One day, when he was about to retire to bed, he complained of chest pain to his wife. When he saw his family doctor the next morning, he was informed that he is at risk of contracting heart disease. Kartik was shocked.
While you can do nothing about your family history of heart disease, you can still take a few steps to protect your heart. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle using the tips mentioned below can reduce your risk of heart disease considerably.
● Avoid smoking: Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide which replaces oxygen in the blood and increases your blood pressure. Your heart needs to work harder to supply more oxygen. Long term tobacco use tends thicken your arteries, that ups your heart attack risk. Smokeless tobacco, second hand smoke and low nicotine cigarettes aren’t safe either. Quitting smoking can help you prevent cardiovascular disease by getting you at par with a non smoker in 15 years.
● Exercise more: Moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day keeps you away from high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, all of which could further strain your heart. Whether it is walking at a brisk pace, doing light yoga or playing a sport, they could all reduce your risk of heart disease in the long run. You can reap more benefits if you increase the frequency, duration and intensity of your exercise routine gradually as per your comfort level.
● Eat healthy: Avoid a diet rich in salt, sugars, trans fats and saturated fats. Say goodbye to packaged and junk foods as well as carbonated drinks. Instead include more fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains such as beans, low fat or fat free dairy products, lean meats and fish in your diet. A healthy diet is your best bet to prevent cardiovascular disease.
● Maintain a healthy weight: If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, you need to watch your waist. A waist size of more than 40 inches indicates that you are overweight. This, combined with a high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides, is a recipe for heart problems. So try to reduce your weight if you are overweight and ensure you stay fit.
● Sleep well: Sleeping for seven to nine hours a day helps you wake up refreshed and recharged. Not getting enough sleep can be harmful for your health, especially your heart. So make sleep a priority by scheduling a time to go to bed and waking up. This could help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering your chances of getting obese and developing diabetes, increased blood pressure, depression and ultimately a heart attack.
● Regular screening: Make sure your blood pressure is near normal that is less than 120/80 mmHg if you are above 40 or are less than 40 years of age but with a high risk for elevated blood pressure. Get your blood cholesterol levels tested every five years or more frequently if you have been detected with high levels. A fasting blood sugar test or Hb1ac test can check whether or not you are diabetic, since it is a risk factor for heart problems. Getting tested for the above, helps you stay updated on your health so that you know when to take action.
Adopting healthier habits such as the ones listed above can help you avert your risk of cardiovascular disease. After all, your health is in your hands. So be wise and stay away from unhealthy habits that could deteriorate the condition of your heart.