‘Think from your Heart’. That is what we regularly keep hearing from our friends and family members. But one can efficiently think if their heart is healthy and working efficiently. Otherwise, what do you expect from an ailing heart other than life of health problems and a few dental appointments?
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World Heart Day: Heart Diseases
‘Use Heart, Know Heart.’ That is the theme of World Heart Day 2023. The heart is a vital organ pumping oxygenated blood in your body and taking the deoxygenated blood out to the lungs. But suffers lasting damage from our careless routine and is the leading cause of death worldwide. Heart diseases, such as stroke, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, approximately causes one-third of the deaths.
After the pandemic, the cases of heart disease have risen significantly. COVID has a long-term effect on the blood and its properties that can later give rise to cardiovascular problems. Dr. Susan Cheng, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, said that young people are not supposed to have heart attacks let alone die because of it. A recent study shows a 30% increase in heart attack deaths in young people over the first two years of the pandemic.
The increasing cases of heart disease have multifactorial reasons. While we can’t control a few factors, it is well in our hands to avoid the majority of them.
Major avoidable factors causing heart disease are:-
- Tobacco and alcohol consumption: Both agents have an additive effect on cardiovascular diseases. With time they decrease blood flow, weaken the heart muscles and increase the risk of haemorrhagic stroke. They also reduce exercise tolerance before the onset of an angina attack. Finding reason is the first step in stopping the addiction and the wish to live a long life to see your family happy and growing is as strong as any you will find. So, make a resolve and seek help if needed.
- Unhealthy diet and high salt consumption: This fast-paced world has come up with packed and ready-to-eat food items high in processed goods with unhealthy fats and added sugar and salts. Fruits and vegetable intake has seen a decline over the last few decades. As a result, many health issues, like obesity, diabetes and hypertension, have seen a significant rise. We need to take an active approach to tackle this factor. Our diet needs to include leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Exercise: We all understand the importance of exercise in keeping the body healthy but only a small population can incorporate it into their life routine. Busy work, family responsibilities and the majorly sedentary lifestyle of this generation have kept us in a bind. But we can tackle this with the help of our families and friends. We should uplift and motivate those around us to exercise daily. Make it a regular in your routine.
- Control stress: Stress has become a constant in our lives. Regular stress causes high blood pressure, headaches and disturbed mental status. To manage this, let’s work towards a more balanced life. Meditation sessions and nature walks help lower body the stress.
- Regular check-ups and medication: Science and technology have come a long way. If there are diseases, scientists are working diligently on better cures for them. It is our responsibility towards ourselves and our families to monitor our health. Regular health check-ups can help us detect any health issues early on and this will further help us in better management, cure and prognosis of the disease. Discipline yourselves to take your medications on time.
Signs and Symptoms
It is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heart disease so that we can ask for help or go to the doctor.
Signs of a cardiovascular problem:
- Chest pain may be radiating pain to the arms
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Jaw pain
- Cold sweats
- Blurring of vision
If you experience any of these symptoms, sit down slowly and try to catch your breath. Your next step should be consulting a doctor.
A Step to a Better Future
To admit a problem is the first step in working towards the solution. We now know the risks of heart disease and how badly it affects our lives. It is our collective responsibility to form healthy habits, stay vigilant to any problematic signs and educate as many people as we can.