- Cardiovascular diseases are a global threat as millions of individuals across the world today suffer from heart diseases. Globally, one in every 10 individuals in the age group of 30 to 70 dies from heart disease. Thirty-one percent of deaths worldwide are due to some type of heart disease. Heart disease is common among both men and women. Previously, heart diseases were commonly seen with increased age; however, changing lifestyle habits have reduced the age at which heart diseases occur, and now it is also common in the middle-aged group. Many other commonly occurring diseases lead to heart diseases, necessitating better awareness of the types of heart diseases, preventive measures for heart diseases, and the path to a healthy heart.
- With this very aim in mind, the World Heart Day is celebrated on 29th September every year to create and spread awareness of the importance of a healthy heart.
Factors that lead to heart problems
Numerous factors may lead to a cardiovascular disease; some of the commonly occurring ones are listed below:
- Obesity : It affects your heart health in three ways
- It causes a rise in bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and reduces good cholesterol (high‑density lipoprotein) from the body, which in turn leads to heart disease.
- It causes a rise in blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack.
- Obesity also increases the risk of diabetes.
- High blood pressure : This is a significant risk factor for heart disease because the increased blood pressure causes the arteries to harden and increases your risk of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke.
- Diabetes : It is the high blood sugar level that can lead to heart disease. You must be thinking how. You can consider the following example. When you add a spoonful of sugar to a glass of water, it dissolves. If you keep adding sugar to it, the liquid will turn thicker and thicker due to increase in its viscosity. The heart pumps blood to all the organs of the body. When the blood sugar level rises, blood becomes thicker, making it more difficult for the heart to pump this highly viscous blood leading to an increased load on the heart. As a result of this as well as other factors related to diabetes, an increased risk of heart diseases is observed in diabetes patients.
- Drug abuse, stress, smoking, excessive use of caffeine and alcohol are some of the other contributing factors of heart diseases.
Coronary artery disease: The most common heart disease
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in which the arteries that supply blood to heart muscles become narrowed and hardened. This causes a reduction in the amount of blood and nutrients that reaches the heart. CAD leads to chest pain, cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, and heart failure.
A guide to a heart-friendly lifestyle
- Diet: It has a significant effect on your overall health. Dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) was ranked as the best diet by US News & World Reports 2011, 2012, and 2013. DASH has a simple diet structure that includes fruits, vegetables, low-fat and non-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, beans, whole grains, and nuts. The DASH diet has the following advantages:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, and stroke
- Prevents and treats obesity
American Heart Association recommends the following diet:
- Eat more vegetables and fruits for a healthy heart.
- Include whole grains in your regular diet as they are a good source of fibres and other nutrients. Whole grains play a role in maintaining appropriate blood pressure.
- Limit unhealthy fats to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower the risk of CAD.
- High sodium intake causes high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Limit the sodium intake in your diet.
- Consume a low-fat protein diet that includes legumes, beans, peas, and lentils.
- Minimise intake of foods and beverages with added sugars.
- According to the American Heart Association, physical activity is the best measure to prevent heart disease. A moderate exercise of 150 minutes a week or a vigorous exercise of 75 minutes every week or an appropriate combination of both is recommended. You should walk for 30 minutes five days a week, which can be all together or in two or three sets of 15 or 10 minutes, respectively.
- Detecting heart disease in time is the first step towards beating it and preventing a heart attack or stroke in the future. Experts from the HealthAssure network will help you prevent, diagnose and overcome heart disease. Simple tests like an electrocardiogram or a stress test can diagnose an underlying heart disease that can be remedied promptly with changes in habits and lifestyle. So this World Heart Day, pledge to raise awareness about heart disease and defeat it with a healthy diet and exercise!
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