World Heart Day falls on September 28, 2008. World Heart Day each year seeks to create awareness about the risks of heart disease, amid the dismal scenario of rising rates of heart disease. Labeled as the number one killer disease worldwide, heart disease and stroke claims the lives of 17.5 million people annually.
This year, the initiatives, underline the 'life and death' issues surrounding heart disease with the theme 'Know Your Risk'. Awareness about preventive measures of heart disease is perhaps the first step to mitigate risks of this killer condition.
Do You Know Your Risks Of Heart Disease?
Nearly 40% of those who get a heart attack die from it. Many of them die before they make it to the hospital. Genetic conditions significantly predispose heart disease risks. Coupled with a bad lifestyle, the risks can simply go up many times. Awareness of risks is a significant step towards mitigating those risks in our hands. Undoubtedly, prevention of heart disease is the best bet.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors Of Heart Disease
- Family history of heart disease
- Post-menopausal women
- Old age
- Men prone to risks
- Race (Mexican Americans, African Americans, American Indians, South Asians, Indians and Pakistanis are a vulnerable lot)
- Elevated levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol and low levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol
- Untreated hypertension
- Anger and aggression
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Untreated diabetes
Reduce Risk of Heart Disease - Act Now
A healthy lifestyle is all about good habits, diet and exercise which have been proved to lower the risk of heart disease.
Top Eight Ways For A Healthy Heart
1. A Heart Healthy Diet comprises of foods low in trans fat, saturated fat, sodium and refined sugars. Vitamins and nutrient rich foods should be consumed in ample quantities. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts lower the risk of heart disease. Antioxidants hold the secret to a healthy heart.
2. Get Moving - Those who lead sedentary lives without exercise suffer increased risk of heart disease, compared to those who engage in moderate forms of physical activity. It is important to exercise at least 30 minutes in a day for cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic exercise like brisk walking, swimming cycling, and jogging are good to promote cardiovascular fitness, though medical advice should be sought before commencement of any exercise program.
3. Control Hypertension -This is crucial to offset risks of heart disease. The best way to control blood pressure is through diet, exercise, weight management and medication (as prescribed by a specialist).
4. Quit Smoking - Smokers carry double the risk of having a heart attack as compared to non smokers. Passive smokers are also in the risk category. Never be tempted to smoke and if you do, simply quit.
5. Improve Cholesterol Levels - The risk for heart disease escalates with increase in total cholesterol. The cholesterol reading for healthy adults should be below 200 mg/dl. HDL, which is called as the good cholesterol, should be above 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women, the higher the better. For healthy adults, LDL should be below 130 mg/dl.A diet which is low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fat is the best way to keep bad cholesterol at bay. Exercise is a must to reduce levels of bad cholesterol and increase levels of good cholesterol. In some cases, doctors prescribe medications to help manage unhealthy cholesterol levels.
6. Control Diabetes - Uncontrolled diabetes can cause heart damage. Diabetes can be controlled by taking appropriate medication, following a strict diet, exercise and weight management.
7. Weight Management - Excess weight is a strain on the heart. Excessive weight increases the risk of many other chronic illnesses. High cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, and high blood pressure are conditions, which can be triggered due to excessive weight gain. Appropriate lifestyle changes to include healthy diet and exercise may be the best way to knock off weight gain.
8. Manage Stress and Anger - Anger and stress escalate chances of heart attack and stroke. Appropriate coping strategies to reduce stress and anger can lower heart attack risks. Anger management and relaxation techniques can go a long way in improving heart health.
The ascent of heart disease was best explained by Dr. Enas A. Enas, director of CADI research foundation, USA, who said, "Genetics load the gun. Environment pulls the trigger."
On World Heart Day, let us give our best shot towards keeping our heart healthy. Avoid heart breaks by understanding what it takes to keep the heart alive and beating!