Health Tip: Heart Health | Mini Santhosh Tharian

Heart is one of the most important and vital part of the body. When every other part of the body has its own vital role to play in the proper functioning of the body, heart stands on top of the list, reason being, without a working heart no other organ can function.

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According to World Health Organization cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of global death taking around 17.9 million lives each year. These include heart attacks, strokes and other heart diseases and conditions.

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There is a misconception that heart disease happens only to older adults. Truth is that it can happen at any age and in reality it is happening to younger adults more and more often now.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. For some people, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack.

What causes coronary artery disease?

CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries (blood vessel) that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) and other parts of the body.
Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which can partially or totally block the blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis.

Common risk factors for heart disease include:

1. High blood pressure
2. High cholesterol level in blood
3. Obesity
4. Diabetes/high blood sugar
5. Smoking
6. Physical inactivity/sedentary lifestyle
7. Unhealthy eating habits
8. Excessive alcohol use

When risk factors such as age, gender and heredity cannot be controlled by us, most of the above mentioned risk factors can be controlled if you take a little effort and careful attention.

Common symptoms of heart disease:

Symptoms of a heart attack may include chest pain or discomfort, upper back, jaw or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness and lightheadedness and shortness of breath.

If you are developing an arrhythmia you may feel a fluttering sensation in the chest/palpitations.

Symptoms of heart failure may include shortness of breath, fatigue or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen or neck veins.

Signs of Stroke may include 1.sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg especially on 1 side of the body
2. Sudden confusion trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech
3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination
5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause

How can you reduce your risk

1. Know your blood pressure
2. Manage your health conditions: Diabetes and cholesterol
3. Change eating habits
4. Lower your stress level: Develop healthy ways to cope with stress
5. Increase physical activity/stay active
6. Reduce weight
7. Quit smoking

If you are a person with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes follow the instructions of your provider to keep it under good control. Check your blood pressure regularly. Folllow blood sugar levels. Limiting salt intake has a great impact on keeping your blood pressure under good control. Try to maintain your blood pressure under 130/80 mmHg.

Make heart healthy eating changes. Eat food which is low in transfat and saturated fat, food without added sugar or sodium. Add more vegetables and fruits in your diet.

If you are an overweight/obese person, loose weight. Maintain your body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 25. Stay active and develop a regular physical exercise pattern. Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. Physical activity helps you feel better, function better and sleep better. It also reduces the anxiety level.

Want to know if your weight is ideal? Calculate your BMI using the formula

#Kilograms and meters (or centimeters)

Formula: weight (kg) / [height (m)]2

The formula for BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Because height is commonly measured in centimeters, divide height in centimeters by 100 to obtain height in meters.

Example: Weight = 68 kg, Height = 165 cm (1.65 m)
Calculation: 68 ÷ (1.65)2 = 24.98

#Pounds and inches

Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703

Calculate BMI by dividing weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703.

Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5″ (65″)
Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96

If you are a smoker, quit. If you know someone who smokes help them quit.

Reduce stress factors. Find healthy ways to keep stress level always low. Find time to relax. Bible says in
Proverbs 17:22 ” A cheerful heart is good medicine”

It is our responsibility to keep our body physically, mentally and spiritually healthy.

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