As daunting as they may sound, heart diseases aren’t an unusual phenomenon in this world. When thinking of heart diseases, heart attack is probably the first and only thing that comes to the mind of a lot of people. But that isn’t true at all. A vast number of conditions fall under the category of cardiovascular diseases; heart attack being one of the more lethal and prevalent ones.
But before we go deeper into the details, let’s discuss a few facts regarding heart diseases and their sufferers;
- Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for the deaths of around 17.7 million people worldwide, every year. That’s approximately 31% of all the deaths worldwide!
- CVD are more prevalent in under developed or developing countries (greater than 75%), but is also the leading cause of death in the USA.
- Most of the deaths caused by CVD are due to heart attacks and strokes (greater than 80%).
- Various factors that put a person at an increased risk of developing CVD are; smoking, tobacco, oily food, fatty foods, alcoholism, unhealthy lifestyle, inadequate physical activity, obesity, age, family history of heart disease etc.
Most heart diseases are caused due to blocked arteries. Deposition of fat and cholesterol leads to development of plaque along the walls of the vessels. When the walls thicken drastically, the blood supply to the relevant organ starts to deplete. Your organs need oxygen, and that oxygen is transported through the blood. When organs fail to receive oxygen, they die. When coronary arteries (i.e the arteries that supply blood to the heart) become blocked due to deposition of cholesterol and plaque formation (also known as atherosclerosis), the heart muscles die, and fail to pump blood. This is commonly known as a heart attack.
Heart diseases are of many types. For eg; angina, myocardium infarction (aka heart attack), stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure etc. Depending on the type of your particular heart disease, you are prescribed a treatment plan and regimen, but there are certain lifestyle changes anyone with a heart disease must most definitely implement in their lives. But before we discuss that, let’s take a look into common symptoms associated with heart diseases;
- The most common angina symptoms are; sharp, gnawing, gripping, tightening pain in the chest radiating to the jaw, shoulder, arm, neck etc
- Heavy or tightening feeling in the chest
- Feeling of suffocation
- Irregular heart rate
- Anxiety, shortness of breath
- Nausea, sweating
- Burning sensation in the chest etc
Regardless of how severe your condition may be, certain lifestyle modifications can be life saving, and will help you better manage your disease.
- Physical activity:
We all know how inviting that cozy bed of ours looks every day, but here’s the deal; that bed might be inviting you to something more than just comfort. Also, that bowl of popcorn in your lap while you binge watch a television series for hours, can prove to be deadly for all patients suffering from heart diseases. One of the most essential steps towards management of heart diseases is the realization that your physical inactivity is your worst enemy. Get yourself up and running, work those muscles, and help your body lose some of the fat that it has collected over time and led to the development of CVD. It is essential for heart patients to keep their body weight in check, to avoid complications leading to more dire consequences. Exercise helps improve blood circulation, and maintains your blood pressure and heart rate .You need not start off incorporating heavy workouts in your routine; start off slow and steady. Then increase your activity according to your will and requirements. Consult your doctor regarding your physical activity plans.
- Eating habits:
Your eating habits are going to define your effectiveness in keeping your condition at bay. For all heart patients, it is mandatory to keep themselves miles away from foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Foods to absolutely avoid include beef, fast foods, oily foods etc. Fish is very vital in maintaining health of such heart patients and heart attack prevention, as it has omega-3 fatty acids. As do many other oils such as olive oil, canola oil, fish oil etc. Eat more vegetables and fruits, avoid red meat and processed foods, and incorporate more fibers in your diet. Green vegetables are specifically a healthy option to acquire in your diet plans.
They don’t just say “smoking kills” for no reason; it is said for a reason. Smoking harms your body in more ways than one. It clogs your arteries and makes blood circulation difficult. It makes your lungs more susceptible to damage, hence breathing problems develop and eventually it will be harder for you to carry out physical activities for heart disease management. Consequently, smoking also raises your blood pressure and heart rate, which only aggravates the condition more. All in all, smoking is a seriously unhealthy habit and smoking cessation is of prime importance when it comes to lifestyle modifications. Don’t waste your life away in puffs of smoke!
Your heart is the most vital organ, circulating blood to every part of your body. When you are stressed, your heart has to work a lot more than usual. As for people whose cardiac function is already compromised, stress could be life-threatening. Heart attacks and angina are triggered by stress, therefore it is important to maintain a healthy mind AND body to avoid unforeseen complications.
- Monitor your blood pressure:
Increased blood pressure, also known as hypertension, increases the workload of your heart and stresses it out. Keep your blood pressure in check regularly, and avoid excessive salt consumption as it increases blood pressure. Take your medications timely and DO NOT practice negligence.
- Body weight:
Body weight doesn’t just have to do with looking good; it is linked with a healthy life and an overall well being. Maintaining a proper body weight is essential for heart patients, as obese people are more at risk of developing heart problems. Get your cholesterol levels tested regularly, and be wary of bad cholesterols.
- Manage diabetes:
Diabetes is another lethal disease that plagues a large population of this planet. It is a condition characterized by uncontrolled increase in blood sugar levels due to problems in the production of function of the hormone responsible to keep your blood sugar level at bay; insulin. Diabetes is a condition that ultimately leads to the development of multiple other diseases if not controlled and managed; heart disease being one of them. Around 65 percent of patients with diabetes die of a heart attack or stroke. Diabetes also increases your cholesterol level and raises blood pressure thus increasing chances of hypertension. It is essential to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle along with managing your diabetes in the most effective way to ensure the avoidance of complications and to maintain a healthy, long life.
- Timely medications:
Since heart disease are a life-long matter, skipping medications when the condition is seemingly under control is a normal practice. As common as it is, it is the most lethal of all habits as you need not skip doses regardless of how you feel. It is mandatory to take medications that will help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and prevent development of clots in your vessels.
The key is to simply make sure that your life-long medications are in conjunction with the proper adjustment in your lifestyle. For all those people that are already more susceptible to a heart disease due to family history, must beware of CVD risk factors , and control their situation before it gets out of hand. We must all ensure heart health. After all, a healthy heart means a healthy you!