by Dr.Sanjay Porwal
World Heart Day is an annual event which takes place on 29 September every year. Each year’s celebrations have a different theme, reflecting key issues and topics relating to heart health.
Heart health is at the heart of all health. When you look after your heart it means eating and drinking well, exercising, stopping smoking… all the things that make you not only healthier but also feel good and able to enjoy your life to the fullest.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have now become the leading cause of mortality in India. A quarter of all mortality is attributable to CVD. Ischemic heart disease and stroke are the predominant causes and are responsible for >80% of CVD deaths.
This World Heart Day, everyone has to understand what they can do to fuel their hearts and power their lives. Just a few simple steps such as eating more healthily, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking can improve your heart health and your overall wellbeing.
It’s easy to be fooled by misconceptions. Do you know the real truth – that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?
One of every 2 individuals according to the ICMR-INDIAB study were considered physically inactive. In addition, <10% of the studied population engaged in recreational physical activity. Physical inactivity was higher in urban areas, for women, and for individuals of higher SES.
What is the age, one should worry about heart disease?
How you live now affects your risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
High blood pressure can accelerate heart diseases?
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and other serious health problems.
When there is Chest pain, it’s a Heart Attack?
Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 108 immediately.
If Diabetes is kept under control, it won’t threaten my heart?
Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because of the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. These overlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight, and obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking.
Have a family history of Heart diseases, should one be more cautious?
Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar, and stop smoking.
Heart failure or Cardiac arrest, both are the same?
The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.
Leg pain is a sign of Aging?
Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. The risk of heart attack or stroke increases for people with PAD.
Why is that sometimes the Heartbeats too fast?
Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.
Can one exercise after a heart attack?
No! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivor who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial.
Are the Heart attack symptoms for women the same as men?
The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. But it is not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. And, sometimes, women may have a heart attack without chest pain. Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort, Shortness of breath, Pain in one or both arms, Nausea or vomiting, Sweating, Lightheadedness or dizziness or Unusual fatigue.
These symptoms can be more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks. Women may describe chest pain as pressure or a tightness. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart — a condition called small vessel heart disease or coronary microvascular disease. Women’s symptoms may occur more often when women are resting, or even when they’re asleep. Mental stress also may trigger heart attack symptoms in women.
What are the other risk factors which can lead to heart disease in Women?
Although several traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease — such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity — affect women and men, other factors may play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women. For example, risk factors may include Diabetes, Mental stress and depression, Smoking, Inactivity, Menopause, Broken heart syndrome, Pregnancy complications
What can women do to reduce their risk of heart disease?
Women can make several lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart disease, including Quit or don’t start smoking, Exercise regularly, Maintain a healthy weight, Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and lean meats. Avoid saturated or trans fat, added sugars, and high amounts of salt.
Women also need to take prescribed medications appropriately, such as blood pressure medications, blood thinners and aspirin. And they’ll need to better manage other conditions that are risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Together we have the power, to reduce the burden of, and premature deaths from, CVD, helping people everywhere to live longer, better, heart-healthy lives.
About the Author: Dr Sanjay Porwal, MD,DNB(card),FESC,FSCAI, FACC is a Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Professor of Cardiology KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi.