Heart Attack! You Can Prevent It
Over the past few years, India witnessed a huge surge in heart attacks making it one of the major causes of death. Recent studies published in ‘The Lancet’ and its associated journals reveal that the occurrence of heart disease and stroke increased by more than 50% (from 1990 – 2016) in India. With changing lifestyles, younger people are also seen to have heart attacks now.
What is a Heart Attack?
Our heart pumps blood to various parts of the body so they can function smoothly. A Heart Attack occurs when an artery supplying blood and oxygen to the heart becomes blocked. The resulting loss of blood flow damages our heart muscle.
Heart attacks don’t always announce themselves clearly. In fact, most times they begin with very subtle symptoms such as mild pain or discomfort. A heart attack generally results in chest pain for more than 15 minutes, but it can also be silent and have no symptoms at all. Often, the symptoms may also come and go.
The key to good health is in not underplaying the unease or brushing it off as indigestion or anxiety.
- Discomfort/Pain in the Chest: Can feel like a tight ache, pressure, fullness or squeezing in the centre of the chest lasting for a few minutes or more. The sensation may come and go in spurts
- Pain in the upper body: Pain or discomfort may spread beyond the chest to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth or jaws. Upper body pain may not always be accompanied by chest discomfort.
- Pain in the stomach: This heartburn-like pain may extend downward into your abdominal area.
- Shortness of breath: You may pant for breath or want to take deep breaths. This often occurs before the onset of chest discomfort
- Anxiety: You may feel a sense of doom or panic.
- Lightheadedness: You may feel giddy or like you might faint.
- Sweating: You may suddenly break into a sweat with cold, sweaty skin.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Your stomach may feel upset or you may vomit.
There are several risk factors that can put one at greater risk. While certain risk factors like age, ethnicity, gender and heredity cannot be reversed, many other factors can be worked on and eliminated. Identifying such risk factors and working on them is a good way to trim down the chances of developing a heart attack. Major risk factors that can be modified include obesity or being overweight, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking and stress.
Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Heart Attacks
By making few lifestyle modifications you can surely reduce the risk of a heart attack. Read on to know the most effective ways to decrease the risk as a well as improve the overall quality of life.
- Diet: What we eat affects our chances of getting a heart attack. A healthy eating plan can help both reduce the risk of developing heart attack and improve our overall health. Add variety to your diet. Ensure the diet is rich in omega fatty acids, high on fiber with lots of fruits and vegetables. Add whole grains to your diet and cut down on sweets, saturated fats, salt and meats.
- Make a Move: Poor dietary habits added with a sedentary lifestyle doubles the risk of heart attack. So, make a move and keep moving! Regular exercise (thrice a week) in any form, such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, cardio exercises at gym are more beneficial to the heart greatly reducing the chances of developing a heart attack. Exercise helps in both, keeping us in good shape, as well as keeping our heart healthy and active.
- Quite Smoking: If you have never smoked, that’s perfect. If you’ve already quit, congratulations! If you are still smoking, talk to a doctor or enroll in a smoke cessation programme right now! Even people who smoke one or two cigarettes a day are at risk. So quit now!
- Maintain Normal Blood Pressure: High Blood Pressure can damage our arteries severely over a period of time. High blood pressure accompanied by other conditions like diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol increases the risk even more. Maintaining normal blood pressure reduces the risk of a heart attack drastically!
- Manage Weight: Managing weight plays a significant role in having a healthy, as well as a heart healthy life. Having a regimen of physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight – this lowers the risk of heart attack. Check your weight regularly and keep under your control. Work on reducing it if you are above your limits.
- Keep Sugar Levels Under Control: Not enough production of pancreatic hormones, as well as insulin or body’s erratic or no response to insulin causes the blood sugar levels to rise. People suffering from such condition are called diabetic patients. They are at a higher risk of heart attack. Regular physical activities along with diet control can help in reducing the risk.
- Be Happy – Manage Stress: Stress is also a major contributor for increased incidence of heart attacks. There are many ways to manage stress, such as meditation, exercise, travel, music, and so on… find a way to manage it, if you want to prevent heart attack.
- Vital Readings: Apart from managing and maintaining our weight, we have to ensure our sugar levels, cholesterol levels as well as the blood pressure are managed and maintained well. Their readings are vital, as they are closely connected to each other. They important in not just preventing heart attacks but are also helpful in preventing other conditions like diabetes and cancer. Schedule a complete heart check-up like Healthy Heart Package. This may not only help determine if we need to make any lifestyle changes, but also recommend if we have to seek medical treatment for potential heart conditions.
Along with all the above, staying happy, meeting friends and close relatives regularly and, being a part of a good social circle also helps improve heart health to a large extent. So, there’s hope! Despite the burgeoning number of heart attacks in the country a few modifiable factors along with a preventive Healthy Heart Package can reverse the trend.