Take good care of your heart.

Nutrition Expert: Sana Saiyed, Practicing Clinical Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Mumbai.

Email: alimentalnutrition@gmail.com

There has been an epidemiological transition over the turn of the decade because of high prevalence of CVD in India.

The reported proportion of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases in India increased from 1.3 million in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2016 although with wide between-state heterogeneity. (1)

In May 2012, world leaders committed to reducing global mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is accountable for nearly half of all NCD deaths making it the world’s number one killer. (2)

World Heart Day is, therefore, the perfect platform for the CVD community to unite in the fight against CVD and reduce the global disease burden.

Risk factors:

  • Eating a diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and related conditions, such as atherosclerosis. Also, too much salt (sodium) in the diet can raise blood pressure.
  • Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease. It can also increase the chances of having other medical conditions that are risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular physical activity can lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and the risk for heart disease. It also increases levels of triglycerides, a fatty substance in the blood which can increase the risk for heart disease.
    • Women should have no more than 1 drink a day.
    • Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day. 
  • Tobacco use increases the risk for heart disease and heart attack:
    • Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart conditions such as atherosclerosis and heart attack.
    • Nicotine raises blood pressure.
    • Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.
    • Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk for heart disease, even for nonsmokers. (3)

Some heart healthy tips for keeping it alive:

1. Cut down on salt: Generally Indian food are high in salt, which gives us more reason to cut down. There are so many guidelines for hypertension patients but what about the others who do not have this condition. Hence you should follow the recommended dose of salt intake which is 1-2 tsp of salt per day. 

Sodium chloride the core component of salt is highly responsible for affecting the heart health if consumed in access. 

2. Eat less sugar: Too much sugar in your diet could lead to weight gain, which can raise your blood pressure and lead to diabetes and heart disease. If you have a sweet tooth and can’t give up sugar altogether, simply have fresh fruit with home-made curd instead of sweetened puddings and cakes.

3. Limit saturated fat: Eating too much saturated fat – found in butter, ghee, margarine, fatty meats, dairy fats and processed foods such as pies, pastries and cakes – is believed to increase cholesterol levels. 

So switch to semi-skimmed milk and low-fat dairy foods instead of full-fat ones, choose lean cuts of meats and steam or grill instead of frying.

4. Fill up on fruit and veg: Increase the amount of potassium in your diet by eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day (potassium can help to lower your blood pressure). The nutrients in fruit and veg – including vitamins, minerals and fibre – may also help to keep your heart healthy.

5. Go for more fish: Oily fish such as pilchards, sardines, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be particularly beneficial for your heart because they improve your cholesterol levels.

6. Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease, and smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who have never smoked. 

 It not only damages the lining of your arteries but reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and raises your blood pressure.

7. Cut back on alcohol: Alcohol can affect your heart by causing high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and damage to the heart muscle. 

Drink once in 15 days instead of 3 times a week, drink only on occasions so that when you say you do casual drinking, mean it.

8. Get more exercise: Studies show that people who aren’t very active are more likely to have a heart attack than those who are. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

9. Keep your weight down: If you’re heavier than you should be, your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes is above normal. 

10. Keep stress under control: Be it emotional, physical, mental stress, you need to keep it under control.  Stress levels can damage the internal lining of the arteries causing the cholesterol to deposit in the artery. Hence stay happy, do lot of breathing exercises, laugh a lot.

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