December 19, 2018
Heart Disease Prevention

50 million patients are afflicted with cardiovascular diseases in India. Lancet, a reputed journal in the field of healthcare claims that “Overall, cardiovascular diseases contributed 28•1% of the total deaths in India.” More than 2.5 million people die every year due to cardiovascular disease. Without much emphasis needed, it is the number one cause of death in the country. Another striking feature is that India faces the highest loss of potentially productive years of life of people aged between 35-65 than the rest of the world. Here it is not the children bringing parents to the heart specialist, but a parent bringing his adult child for treatment.

Major cause for such a change in trend is the current lifestyle of people. Some risk factors are non-modifiable which inadvertently lead to diseases such as age of the patient, family history of heart diseases, being a male gender. But there are certain known causative aetiologies that affect the cardiovascular health which if properly controlled can dominate the worst of genetics, age, and family history.

1. Quit Smoking - No habit of man has been so ruinous towards health than smoking. There is no organ spared in the body that is unaffected by smoking. From cardiac diseases to cancer, smoking causes all. 25% of the cardiovascular diseases is attributed to smoking. Nicotine in cigarettes leads to increased adrenergic drive raising blood pressure and decreasing protective lipid levels and rising unhealthy lipids leading to clogging to arteries in the body. Cessation of smoking is one of the most efficient methods to prevent heart disease, which offers a life-span equal to healthy individuals after 10-20 years of cessation.

2. Weight Loss - A body mass index of more than 27 is considered as a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Increased consumption of fried food, rich carbohydrates, sedentary life, inactivity, exercise intolerance promote accumulation of fat in the body leading to an obese individual. Increased consumption of processed food has wreaked havoc in the health of the population. Excess fat leads to increased oxygen demand, increased load on the heart, accumulation of fat in the arteries and veins and ultimately a fatal heart disease. Two important aspects to control obesity:
• Prudent Diet – balanced with nutrients, vitamins and minerals in modest quantities.
• Regular Exercise – moderate physical activity, engagement in yoga, weight loss cardio fitness programs will help reduce weight.

3. Active Lifestyle - In the current technological world, demand for mental work is far more than physical labour rendering the neurons under constant stress and the muscles useless. Professionals are in the constant static state and rarely engage in physical activity leading to frustration. Engagement in moderate level of regular physical activity will keep the body healthy. Mental stress reduction must be emphasised with suggestions such as yoga, meditation, positive mind-frame.

4. Monitor Blood Pressure Regularly - Blood pressure in the body can have disastrous effects in the short term and subtle profound debility in the long term. Increased pressure accelerates the process of atherosclerosis. Early management with exercise, salt restriction and if necessary, medications can control the chronic pressure and in turn prevent a cardiac event.

5. Keep a check on your Sugar Levels - India is the capital of diabetes in the world with everyone in ten individuals being a diabetic. Abnormal metabolism of glucose and impaired insulin secretions sum up the pathophysiology of diabetes and the complications include cataracts, retinopathies, cardiovascular disease, renal failure, leg ulcers etc. Jack LaLanne, the famous fitness expert’s quote “If it tastes good, spit it out” can find meaning in diabetic diet. Carbohydrates are palatable to the taste buds, but increased consumption can be disastrous in the long term. Hence a diet rich in protein and moderate fat with low carbohydrates make a best diabetic diet. Regular exercise and monitoring of glucose and A1c levels will ensure complications to a bare minimum.