Why a balanced life is essential for heart health

The heart is an essential organ for our longevity and survival. It is vital for the supply of oxygen and nutrients to all body cells. We should not ignore symptoms of heart problems and take immediate steps to correct them.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a paradigm shift in our lifestyle. Working from home has become the new normal. Work-life balance has become difficult because there is no separation between private and professional life. Now it has become essential for people to take a moment and work together to achieve an optimal work-life balance.

A balanced lifestyle can be the key to a healthy heart. Clinical studies have shown that people with healthy lifestyles have better heart health, even in old age. A healthy diet and a more focused approach to heart health by adopting a healthy lifestyle have become the necessity of the hour.

Doctors and medical professionals around the world are urging people of all age groups, especially young people, to take these vital steps in the face of the new normal:

  1. Have a balanced lifestyle
  2. Go for regular health checks
  3. Not to ignore any symptom

On the one hand, we are struggling to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are still the number one cause of death.

According to various estimates, approximately 18 million people succumbed to cardiovascular disease in 2016. This number represents a third of all global deaths. Of these 18 million deaths, about 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke. According to one study, India reported 63 percent of all deaths from non-communicable diseases in 2016. Twenty-seven percent of these were due to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases are also responsible for 45 percent of all deaths between the ages of 40 and 69 in India.

People with pre-existing heart disease have faced a unique challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic. They skip routine consultations and are now isolated from friends and family. These cases have further exacerbated the situation.

It is high time that each of us started focusing on the health of our hearts.

Why does heart health start to deteriorate after the Covid-19 pandemic?

After Covid-19, many people work long hours. They sleep badly, skip meals and replace healthy food with sugar and caffeine. Cases of cigarette smoking have increased. Most of us are stressed and tired. Our daily lifestyle involves little or no exercise. The stress of accumulating money has made our bodies heavier. We have time for annual screening tests. Most of us have no idea what is going on in our bodies. Young people think they are too young to have heart problems. All these factors with a delayed diagnosis can have fatal consequences.

Doctors urge you to watch out for the warning signs such as:

  • Chest pain or chest discomfort
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Racing or slow heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

All of these symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.

What dietary and lifestyle changes should we incorporate into our daily routine for heart health?

Some of the steps heart doctors suggest to improve heart health by maintaining a balanced lifestyle include:

  • Do exercises according to your body.

According to official guidelines, 30-45 minutes of exercise five times a week is good for the heart and overall health. Some young people have a tendency to overdo it, which can lead to a medical condition called exercise-induced cardiomyopathy. It can cause myocardial damage and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) leading to heart failure.

Junk food has now become a part of our lives. This junk food contains “bad” cholesterol, which can cause heart vessel blockage, leading to a heart attack. In addition, many young people consume processed proteins or health supplements filled with steroids. These steroids can weaken the heart muscle.

A balanced diet should contain optimal amounts of nutrients. A diet, if not balanced, can damage our heart, such as:

  • Excess protein consumption can cause damage to the kidneys, leading to high blood pressure and heart attack.
  • Too much carbohydrate and fat in the diet can increase glucose metabolism, clogging arteries.

Include fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oatmeal, quinoa, nuts and seeds in your daily meals.

  • Go for regular health checks.

A regular health checkup can help detect heart disease early.

Stress and heart disease go hand in hand. One can practice relaxation techniques. Say no to tobacco, which we often think of as a tool to relieve stress. But actually it hurts your heart. Limiting the intake of caffeinated and carbonated drinks has beneficial effects on your heart.

Simple changes in daily habits can have a positive impact on your heart health. Therefore, take care of the health of your heart and your loved ones and enjoy your life with only happiness.

Dr. Anand Pandey, Director & Senior – Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

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