In your 20s, the only time you’re anxious about your heart is probably when you are going through a breakup. But your heart probably deserves more attention than that, especially considering that approximately 28 lakh people in India lost their lives due to cardiovascular complications in 2016 and there are more than 5.45 crore prevalent cases of heart-related diseases today.
The study also shows that heart-related conditions contributed to 18 percent of total deaths in the year 2016, thus making it one of the leading causes of death in recent years. And merely being young doesn’t keep you safe from the risk of developing heart diseases later in life. There are various coronary heart disease risk factors in play, including high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating and stress that expose you to the risk of developing clogged arteries, a few years down the line.
What this means is that the behaviours and habits we establish while young, really can catch up to us. This includes the lifestyle that we live today thinking “You Only Live Once” and skip the gym for a Netflix binge or have more than one cheat-meal days in a week. While it’s not at all prohibited to have a drink once in a while, research shows that people who maintain heart-healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy diet, drinking in moderation and exercising regularly in their 20s and 30s, have a lower cardiovascular risk profile in their 50s than those who don’t.
The good news here is that approximately 80 percent of heart-related issues can be prevented through smart lifestyle choices and healthy diet. That includes quitting smoking, hitting the gym and cutting back on binge-eating. Here are a few tips to help you keep your heart healthy and protected throughout your life.
Get Up and Get Out
It is quite tempting to munch on the popcorn while watching TV, however, being too much of a couch potato can put your heart at risk. A study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that watching TV daily for a couple of hours could increase the risk of developing cardiovascular complications by 15 percent. That means you need to be more active and make time for physical activity if you wish to have a healthy heart.
The Indian Heart Association recommends that you need to indulge in vigorous physical activity daily for at least 30 minutes, even if you must break it into three sessions of 10-minutes each. Exercising regularly too speeds weight loss, which is crucial because obesity does increase the risk of developing a heart condition. Exercises can also help stimulate blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure, which improves your overall health.
Give Up Smoking for Good
Smoking all those packs of cigarettes in your teens may have felt liberating, but it’s a habit that can expose you to potentially fatal health problems like cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke. Excess smoking causes hardened arteries and plaque build-up, both of which severely weaken your heart. Therefore, you need to find ways to stop smoking like undergoing counselling or using smoking cessation aids.
Even if you have been unsuccessful in your earlier attempts to give up smoking, try again, since most smokers need multiple attempts to get over the addiction. And reducing stress on your lungs would help alleviate stress on your heart.
Manage Your Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial to have a healthy heart throughout your life. Studies have shown that weight extremes can increase your risk for cardiovascular complications. While obese people are most vulnerable to heart ailments, people with anorexia, who become drastically underweight are also affected by these health conditions. Severe anorexia can cause complications such as irregular heart rhythms, electrolyte imbalances and low blood pressure.
On the other hand, morbid obesity significantly increases the risk of developing heart conditions along with other ailments related to inactivity like high cholesterol levels and diabetes. Therefore, you need to maintain a healthy body weight if you want to protect your heart from fatigue or damage. When your body weight is within a healthy range, your heart can circulate blood more effectively while your body can manage the necessary fluid levels, thus preventing strain on your heart.
When you are healthy and rarely need to see a physician, it may seem like a smart move to cut out on health insurance entirely and justify going without it. We feel that it is quite worrisome to think about making the insurance premiums and co-payments, especially when you have other things to take care of.
However, this is faulty reasoning. Health insurance is not a lifestyle choice, it is a necessity for each one of us since medical emergencies can be expensive. Without health insurance, you could quickly end up with a crippling amount of medical debt that would never seem to go away. One heart complication and it could cost you thousands of rupees in hospitalisation and medical bills. And if you must undergo surgery or rehabilitation, these costs would climb even higher. With comprehensive health insurance plans like critical illness plans, you can focus on your medical treatment without sweating a brow on the bills or any other miscellaneous expenses.
Regardless of your age or social status, you can certainly improve your heart’s health through healthy diet and lifestyle changes. That said, you cannot compromise on health insurance at any point in your life. Remember, heart ailments can severely hamper your daily activities and are life-threatening. But most importantly, their treatment can eat up your savings very quickly if you are not prepared for them financially. With a health insurance policy in place, thankfully, you won’t have to think much about the expenses or your savings draining.