This World Heart Day, make a promise to fight against cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock
New Delhi: We make multiple promises to our dear ones - a promise to love, a promise to cherish, a promise of forever…but to keep these hearty promises, one needs to have a healthy heart. Today, cardiovascular disease is the world’s top killer and the numbers of deaths reported due to CVD are on the rise. One such cardiovascular disease is heart failure (HF) which is one of the leading causes of mortality and repeated hospitalisations. World Heart Day, which takes place on 29 September, aims to raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart failure, stroke and heart attack.
Heart failure is an important global health problem, affecting about 26 million people worldwide. It is associated with high mortality and is estimated to have cost about US$100 billion in 2012. “Since heart failure is a progressive disease with high associated death rates amongst Indians, there are enough reasons to be alarmed over matters of the heart. The need of the hour is to recognise heart failure as a public health priority in the country. Today, there are advanced treatment options available for heart failure. While lifestyle modifications are mandatory, medicines help in reducing symptoms, improving quality of life and reducing mortality,” Dr K Sarat Chandra, President, Cardiological Society of India, said. Read - World Heart Day 2018: How to keep your heart healthy in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond
Understanding heart failure
Heart failure is a potentially life-threatening condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. This happens because the heart muscle, which is responsible for the pumping action, weakens or stiffens over time. Heart failure is a growing epidemic that affects estimate 8-10 million individuals in India. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the signs and symptoms of heart failure and not confuse it with any other heart ailment or age-related problem.
Signs and symptoms of heart failure
Common signs and symptoms of heart failure include -
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to sleep without elevate pillows
- Swelling (edema) in the ankles, legs and abdomen
- Constant fatigue
- Wheezing and constant coughing
Read - World Heart Day 2018: What is a silent heart attack? 8 tell-tale signs and symptoms, causes of a heart attack
Causes of heart failure
Several factors are responsible for causing heart failure, and a
prior heart attack is one of the key reasons for developing the
condition. Other common reasons leading to heart failure are
coronary artery diseases (CAD), blocked arteries,
cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscles from infections
or alcohol or drug abuse or smoking), or co-morbid conditions
like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, kidney disease or
thyroid malfunction. In most cases, heart failure does not have
a single cause.
Youngsters these days indulge in unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking, drug abuse, excessive consumption of alcohol, lack of exercise and others which in the long run affects their health. These lifestyle habits are risk factors that lead to diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc, which can worsen their heart function, resulting in heart failure. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid heart issues. Read - World Heart Day 2018: Top 10 diet tips for a healthy heart
Make a promise to eat healthy
Eating and drinking well give the heart the fuel it needs to stay healthy. Today, make just a few simple changes to your diet to help reduce your own and your family’s risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Try not to eat so many processed and pre-packaged foods which are often high in sugar and fats.
- Cut down on sugary beverages and fruit juices - choose water or unsweetened juices instead.
- Swap sweet, sugary treats for fresh fruit as a healthy alternative
- Try to eat 5 portions (about a handful) of fruit and veggies a day - they can be fresh, frozen, tinned or dried.
- Keep the amount of alcohol you drink within recommended guidelines.
- Make your own healthy school or work lunches at home.
Make a promise to get more active
Physical inactivity can contribute significantly to heart disease as it can lead to unhealthy weight gain, diabetes and raised blood pressure. Today, take control of your heart health by getting more active.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five times a week. Playing, walking, housework, dancing - they all count!
- Be more active every day - take the stairs, walk or cycle instead of driving
- Exercise with friends and family - you’ll be more motivated and it’s more fun!
- Download an exercise app or use a pedometer to keep track of your progress.
Make sure to check with your doctor or a healthcare professional before you start any exercise plan. Read - Sitting too much is bad for your heart: 6 easy ways to sit less and move more at work
Make a promise to quit smoking
To stop smoking is the single best thing one can do to improve their heart health. Today, make a commitment to quit and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, and that of those around you.
- Within 2 years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is substantially reduced.
- Within 15 years, the risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker.
- Exposure to second-hand smoke is also a cause of heart disease in non-smokers.
- By quitting you’ll not only improve your health but that of those around you.
- If you’re having trouble stopping smoking, ask for professional advice on how to quit.
- You can also ask your employer if they provide smoking-cessation services.
Small changes you make today will help you live a longer and healthier, life.