The heart is an essential organ for our longevity and survival. It is vital for oxygen and nutrient supply to all body cells. We should not ignore any symptoms of heart trouble and take immediate steps to rectify them.
The Covid-19 Pandemic created a paradigm shift in our lifestyle. Working from home has become the new normal. Managing work-life balance has become difficult as there is no separation between personal and professional life. Now, it has become essential for people to pause and make a collective effort to achieve an optimal balance between work and life.
A balanced lifestyle can be the key to a healthy heart. Clinical studies have proved that people with a healthy lifestyle have better heart health, even in old age. A healthy diet and a more focused approach toward heart health by adopting a healthy lifestyle have become the need of the hour.
Doctors and medical professionals across the world are urging people across the age groups, particularly the youth, to take these essential steps in the light of the new normal:
- Maintain a balanced lifestyle
- Go for regular health checkups
- Not to ignore any symptom
On one side, we struggle to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are still the number one killer medical condition.
According to various estimates, around 18 million people succumbed to cardiovascular diseases in 2016. This number represents one-third of all global deaths. Of these 18 million deaths, approximately 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke. As per a study, India reported 63 percent of all deaths due to noncommunicable diseases in 2016. Twenty-seven percent of these were because of CVDs. Cardiovascular diseases also account for 45 percent of all deaths between 40 to 69 years in India.
People with existing heart disease have faced a unique challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are skipping routine consultations and are now become isolated from friends and families. These things have further aggravated the situation.
It is high time that each of us should start focusing on our heart health.
Why the heart health starts deteriorating after the Covid-19 pandemic?
Post Covid-19, many people are working long hours. They are not sleeping well, skipping meals, and replacing healthy food with sugar and caffeine. Instances of cigarette smoking have increased. Most of us are stressed out and tired. Our daily lifestyle includes little or no exercise. The stress of accumulating money has accumulated weight on our bodies. We have time for annual screening tests. Most of us have no idea of what is happening inside our bodies. Youth consider themselves too young to have any heart problems. All these factors with delayed diagnosis may have fatal consequences.
Doctors request you to be vigilant of the warning signs like:
- Chest pain or chest discomfort
- Unexplained fatigue
- Racing or slow heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting (syncope), or near fainting
All these symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.
What diet and lifestyle changes should we include in our daily routine for heart health?
Some of the steps which heart doctors suggest to improve heart health by maintaining a balanced lifestyle are:
- Do exercises as per your body.
According to official guidelines, 30-45 minutes of exercise five times a week is good for the heart and overall health. Some youngsters tend to overdo, which may lead to a medical condition called exercise-induced cardiomyopathy. It may cause myocardial damage and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) that leads to heart failure.
- Say no to junk food
Junk food has now become a part of our lives. This junk food contains ‘bad’ cholesterol, which can cause blockage in heart vessels leading to a heart attack. Additionally, many youngsters consume processed protein or health supplements filled with steroids. These steroids can weaken the heart muscles.
- Have a balanced diet
A balanced diet should have optimal quantities of nutrients. A diet, if not balanced, may damage our heart, such as:
- Excessive protein consumption may cause damage to the kidney, causing high blood pressure causing a heart attack.
- Too many carbohydrates and fat in the diet may increase glucose metabolism, causing blocked arteries.
Include fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oatmeal, quinoa, nuts, and seeds in your daily meals.
- Go for regular health checkups.
A regular health checkup can help in identifying heart diseases in the early stage.
- Be stress-free
Stress and heart ailments go hand in hand. One can practice relaxation techniques. Say no to tobacco, which we often think is a tool to relieve stress. But actually, it harms your heart. A limit on the intake of caffeinated and carbonated drinks has beneficial effects on your heart.
Simple changes in daily habits can positively impact your heart health. Therefore, take care of your and your loved ones’ heart health and enjoy your life with only happiness.
Dr. Anand Pandey, Director & Senior – Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi