Understanding The Importance Of Following A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2016, representing 31% of all global deaths.
A healthy diet and lifestyle promotes overall heart health
The rise in number of patients and deaths due to cardiovascular conditions is alarming. These include conditions such as disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and congenital heart disease among others. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2016, representing 31% of all global deaths. India specifically reported 63% of total deaths due to non-communicable diseases in 2016, 27% of which were attributed to cardiovascular diseases. And other studies also corroborate this distressing trend. The results of the Global Burden of Disease study state that age-standardised cardiovascular disease death rate of 272 per 100000 population in India is much higher than that of global average of 235. Hence, there is enough and more data pointing at the cardiovascular burden of India, and why there is a need to urgently address it.
But before discussing the measures to address cardiovascular diseases in India, let's understand the risks and symptoms one should be aware of in this context. Widely known factors such as smoking and obesity are associated with increased prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in Indians. INTERHEART study has also outlined nine common risk factors including physical inactivity, low fruits and vegetable intake and psychosocial stress. Health conditions such as high blood pressure, unhealthy blood cholesterol levels and diabetes also increase the risk for heart diseases. While these are all well-known factors causing cardiovascular dysfunction, it is critical to note that the overall burden of the conventional risk factors is on rapid increase in the Indian population.
While these are some risk factors which one should steer clear of to avoid contracting cardiovascular diseases, it is also important to understand the warning signs of heart failure. The Heart Failure Society of America has developed a handy tool called FACES that can help doctors and patients identify possible heart failure symptoms. FACES stands for fatigue, activity limitation, congestion, Edema or ankle swelling and shortness of breath. Some other symptoms include persistent coughing or wheezing, lack of appetite or nausea, impaired thinking and increases heart rate. While these are some critical warning signs to identify early onset of heart conditions, they are not exhaustive or mutually exclusive in any way. Hence, it is always advisable to regularly monitor the heart health and consult a cardiologist for expert consultation and advice.
In conclusion, it is a no brainer that keeping a strict check on the health of your heart is imperative for sustainable living. Following a balanced diet, being consistent with physical activities, living a tobacco- free life are some easy yet effective ways to keep heart disorders at bay. Irrespective of your age, sex or medical history, it is advisable to keep a check on how your body is reacting and evolving on a day-to-day basis. Even the slightest of deviation could be a red flag for something critical to come. Hence, while you follow preventive measures, also keep your full body check-ups consistent. An informed and balanced lifestyle is the key to leading a long, healthy and hearty life.
(Dr Ashish Chauhan, MD (Medicine), DNB Cardiology, Interventional Cardiologist at Sarvodaya Hospital & Research Centre, Faridabad, Delhi NCR)
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