The Road to a Healthy Heart

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The Road to a Healthy Heart

With cardio vascular diseases on the rise, it is crucial that individuals take stock of their heart.

The number of people suffering from Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) is increasing due to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity and lack of physical activity, especially in urban areas.  

One of the unintended consequences of rapid urbanisation is that individuals don’t have a lot of time on their hands. A sedentary lifestyle is a fertile breeding ground for heart disease. In such a scenario, a concerted effort is required to maintain a healthy heart.

According to Dikshya Joshi, a cardio surgeon at Sahid Gangalal Hospital, an unhealthy lifestyle and lack of awareness are the primary reasons behind the current worsening cardio problems of people. “A poor diet and lack of physical activity develop the risk of cardiac problems. People should adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid heart problems,” she says.

With urbanisation, people’s lifestyles have become hectic, and they are finding it a challenge to maintain a work-life balance. “In the urban areas, people have a busy schedule with no room for physical activities. Smartphones have taken over our lifestyles and we are ignoring the value of exercise and a healthy diet. Naturally, because of this, many people are overweight, even obese. This has led to an increase in heart diseases. Deaths owing to heart attacks have also increased in number,” Joshi remarks.

In developed countries, rheumatic heart disease has nearly been eradicated, but it is still one of the significant causes of death in Nepal. “In urban areas, people have coronary artery disease. Even though people are aware of the risk factor of heart diseases, they neglect their health, and they don’t focus on prevention,” she says, adding people only visit the doctor when the condition is about to reach critical mass.

Joshi further adds that people have become ignorant towards their health and only focus on it when it is nearly too late. Instead of looking to prevent the disease, they seek for the cure.

Tips for a Healthy Heart from Dr. Dikshya Joshi, Cardio Surgeon, Sahid Gangalal Hospital

No tobacco and smoking     
Smoking is considered the most significant risk factor for developing heart disease. No amount of smoking is safe and it should be strictly avoided. However, the risk of heart disease begins to lower soon after quitting smoking.

Staying physically active
Regular exercise keeps us physically fit and helps reduce sugar, high cholesterol, blood pressure, strokes and heart disease. Activities such as walking, jogging, stretching, gardening and taking the stairs instead of elevators are beneficial for maintaining cardio health.

A heart-healthy diet
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect our heart. There are three rules: eat at least half a kilogramme of seasonal fruits before lunch. If possible, combine four different kinds of fruits in it. Second, consume at least half a kilogramme of seasonal uncooked green vegetables throughout the day. Third, take your dinner before seven if possible.

Maintain a healthy weight
Basal metabolic index (BMI) is a measure that determines the percentage of fat in our body. BMI can be calculated by dividing weight in kilogrammes with the height in metres square.  If BMI is more than 25, then there are high chances of having cholesterol, high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease and strokes. Another measure to screen a weight-related health problem is measuring the waist rather than the hips. The chances are high for heart disease if the waistline is more than 40 inches in men and more than 35 inches in women.

Get good quality sleep
Sleeping for 7-9 hours is recommended for a healthy heart. Rest should always be a priority. Some doctors recommend the rule of eight for a healthy heart, which means, eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours with family and friends.

De-stress everyday
Our life has become more and more stressful. Stress is also a strong reason for heart disease. We have to engage ourselves every day in things that de-stress us. For some people, daily exercise does wonders, while for others, meditation and yoga, singing or dancing, spending time with family and friends can be beneficial for relief. We should always have time for ourselves.

Regular check-up
Routine physical examination, measuring blood pressure, blood sugar level, cholesterol, and other risk factors is critical. Prevention is always better than cure.

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