Edited by Pinki
According to a study, heart disease is the most common reason for deaths in India. Research and surveys have also shown that over 2.1 million deaths, in all age groups, were caused by heart ailments, in 2015.
Of course, the numbers are scary and worrisome, but not unavoidable. The simple solution to this is a little change in the way of life.
While you might not realize that your heart is working day and night, even when you are sleeping, resting, working or maybe not doing anything.
Unarguably then, the most important muscle of your body needs extra care and attention as it plays the most vital role of pumping blood in the entire body, which keeps the life and you go.
The health of the heart majorly depends on the way we live our lives, including what we eat, how much we move, how much we sleep and lots more.
So, while eating right is always recommended for a good heart, as they say, you are what you eat; a tab on your weight, tobacco consumption, sleeping habits, among other things, are also needed to be followed if you want to be hale and hearty.
Here are a few habits that you should follow and make them a way of your life, to have a healthy heart. These simple steps cannot just reduce the risk of heart ailments but will give you a new lease of life that is healthier and happier.
- 1Physical activity: Lethargy is the best friend of a heart ailment. People who are lazy and have very less physical activity are always at a higher risk of heart attacks. Include at least 30-minute exercise or some kind of physical activity in your routine. You can also break it into parts, for the entire day. For instance, you can go for a 10-minute morning walk and a 20-minute workout, dance class, cycling or any other physical activity, for the rest of the day. When you are active, your weight is in control and hence the risk of heart disease is decreased. Also, another study says that people who sit in one place for longer periods are always prone to heart diseases. So, make a move, and keep your heart on the go!
- 2Eat right: Say no to food high in saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol. While the body requires saturated, polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats in balanced amounts, what it doesn’t need at all is trans fat, which increases the risk of heart disease or having a stroke for the rest of their life. The main reason for this is that trans fat blocks the arteries by increasing the bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and decreasing the good cholesterol levels (HDL). If you cut down these fats; by saying goodbye to packaged foods, snack foods, fried fast foods, among others; you will automatically improve the blood flow in the body. Go for lean meat (roasted, grilled or baked), fruits and veggies, low-fat or fat-free dairy items and whole grains, for a good heart. Also, cut down on your salt intake to keep the blood pressure in control and hence keeping the heart ailment at bay.
- 3Quit tobacco: Going by the figures of the American Heart Association, getting exposed to tobacco smoke results in about 34,000 premature heart deaths! It has been proved that tobacco increases the risk of heart disease. So, put down your cigarettes and cut down all kinds of tobacco consumption. Take help of medicines, counselling or meditation to get rid of this habit, but do so soon, if you want to keep your heart healthy. Besides active smoking, passive smoking is equally injurious to health. Studies have shown that people who are exposed to secondhand smoke have the risk of developing heart disease 25 to 30 % higher than other people, as it leads to plaque formation which blocks arteries and causes heart attacks.
- 4Keep a watch on alcohol: Alcohol and heart ailments are directly related. Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to high blood pressure which further increases the risk of heart failure, heart attack or even a stroke. High blood pressure is mainly caused due to weight gain as alcohol in large amounts leads to a higher weight. Moreover, heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle over a period of time. This leads to improper pumping of blood and thus can lead to death through heart failure. UK Chief Medical Officers suggest to limit the consumption of alcohol to 14 units a week, to keep your heart healthy. But then, don’t save these 14 units for the weekend only. Spread it in the entire week.
- 5Sleep well: A good and sound sleep is key to a healthy body. The study says a good sleep of 7-8 hours is needed for healthy bodily functions. Research has also found that people who sleep less than 6 hours on a daily basis are more prone (about twice as likely) to strokes and heart problems, as against people who have a sleeping pattern of 7-8 hours of sleep. If you do not sleep well, our underlying health conditions and other biological processes go for a toss. It further leads to weight gain, high blood pressure of inflammation, thereby increasing the risk of heart failure.
- 6Dental care: It might sound strange but dental care is directly proportional to a healthy heart. If you take good care of your teeth, brush them twice and floss them, it definitely reduces the risk of heart ailments. Also, do not hesitate for regular dental check-ups and cleaning sessions with the doctor. Research has shown that people suffering from gum diseases are at a greater risk of heart attack or failure. This is because bacteria that develops in the mouth and cause infection, can move into the bloodstream and increase the level of C-reactive protein which leads to inflammation in blood vessels. With inflammation, arteries and vessels get blocked and thus there is a higher risk of heart disease. So oral health is a prime determinant of good heart valves and arteries and thus a healthy heart.
- 7Say bye to stress: Stress is the root cause of many disorders and improper bodily functions. If you are high on stress and leave it unmanaged, there are higher chances of your blood pressure going up, you may eat more, exercise less, consume alcohol and tobacco, and thus hamper the functioning of your heart. All these behavioral changes and habits, lead to high blood pressure, damage the artery walls and result in heart diseases. All these things lead to improper functioning of the heart and thus increase the risk of heart ailment. When you are stressed, the body sees a persistent rise in stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which further lead to blood clots and thus heart problems.
According to the latest study, India has seen a 34% increase in the rate of deaths caused by heart problems, in the last 26 years.
The figures are definitely a testimony of the fact that people have become more prone to heart ailments and take less care of this vital organ.
Thus, there is no harm in realizing that the alarm bells have rung and it is now time to get up and take care of your heart. Do a little favour for it, follow the above-stated simple changes in your lifestyle and say hello to a life which is ‘hale and hearty’.