Actor-comedian Raju Srivastava’s death, after being hospitalized for over 40 days, has once again highlighted the high fatality rate caused by heart diseases. Across the world, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are one of the leading causes of mortality. An estimated 17.9 million people perished due to CVDs in 2019, contributing to 32 percent of deaths globally. Out of all the people who died from CVD, 85 percent suffered a stroke and heart attack. Further, a quarter of these CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Keeping these statistics in mind, experts stress the enormous need for awareness about the prevention of heart disease. As such, World Heart Day is an incredible platform to spread awareness about how people can prevent cardiac issues and reduce the burden caused by this condition, said Dr. Prashant Pawar, consultant cardiologist, at Fortis Hospital Vashi. “Since the heart is crucial to a person’s survival, it is important to keep it healthy with a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress busters like meditation and yoga coupled with daily physical exercise while avoiding things like smoking and alcohol that can damage its arteries,” said Dr. Pawar.
Lack of physical activities
According to National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health, a lack of physical activity can increase the risk of cardiac issues, even if a person does not have any other risk factors. Besides cardiac problems, being sedentary can also increase the likelihood of several other chronic diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
Timely treatment is essential
Coronary arteries are only about 3-4 mm in diameter. Over time, a person consuming too many processed foods, including fatty and greasy items, can cause extreme damage to them. Additionally, if any significant heart artery is blocked for more than 30 minutes, it can impact the muscles in the heart, leading to a severe medical condition. This is a sign of a heart attack or cardiac issues; if a person suffers from it, they require immediate medical attention. In such a scenario, a common symptom is chest pain that must be brought to a doctor’s attention immediately.
The risk of blood pressure increases with age
Dr. Pawar mentioned that in people above the age of 80, there is a 60 percent chance of them having high blood pressure. This is mainly because as we get older, the arteries in our body get stiffer, affecting the blood pressure level. This can be true even for people with heart-healthy habits. Hence, the vulnerable population must monitor blood pressure regularly. A recent nationwide survey by ICMR has shown that 28 percent of adults in India have hypertension, and nearly 77 percent are undiagnosed, leading to a high burden of hypertension in the country.
The prevalence of coronary heart disease has increased in India
“Indians and Southeast Asians are at a higher risk of contracting a heart condition than their Western counterparts. This is evident in the prevalence of heart-related diseases that have substantially increased in rural and urban India over the past several decades. The rate of coronary incidences has risen from 1.6 percent to 7.4 percent in rural people and from 1 percent to 13.2 percent in urban populations. In 2021 there was a six-fold rise in cases related to cardiac issues in Mumbai,” Dr. Pawar said.
Today, this condition claims as many lives each year as cancer, chronic lung diseases, accidents and diabetes combined. Some simple habits that can help you prevent a heart attack include the following
- Focus on a diet rich in fiber, high protein, and low fat.
- Have a hearty breakfast that keeps you full for the day. Your lunch and dinner should be smaller in comparison.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily, at least five days a week.
- Use the staircase whenever possible and avoid lifts. Alternatively, it would help if you also chose to walk small distances instead of using vehicles.
- Get adequate sound sleep for at least eight hours a day.
- Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption as far as possible.
- Practice stress busters like meditation, yoga, and breathing tactics.