People say turning 30 can be a turning point on the health front. You start feeling joint pains, more fatigue and a dip in stamina. Having a wholesome diet and a regular fitness routine can be beneficial for health, especially when it comes to heart health. Cardiovascular disease, especially heart attack, is the number one killer worldwide for a long time. Indians are at higher risk of developing heart attack at a relatively younger age approximately 10 to 15 years early than the western population, as per studies. Some statistics also estimate the percentage of heart attack victims less than 40 years is approximately 40 percent. This is a very disturbing trend. So, people need to follow tips to keep their heart healthy after 30.
Heart attack is a lifestyle disease and major portion of the risk can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyle. “Heart attack occurs due to deposition of the fat in the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart muscle. This process of deposition of fat starts from the second decade of life. Whether this process progresses or regresses, depends on our lifestyle and presence of risk factors,” says Dr Gnanadev N C, MBBS, MD (General Medicine), DNB (Cardiology), Consultant – Cardiology, Kauvery Hospital, Electronic City, Bengaluru.
Hence, measures to prevent heart attack should start at an early age which requires significant behavioural changes and awareness. The major risk factors for cardiovascular disease are classified as modifiable and non-modifiable.
* Non-modifiable risk factors are age, sex, genetic makeup, or family history.
* Modifiable risk factors include hypertension, diabetes mellitus cigarette smoking, high cholesterol,obesity, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary habits
According to Dr Gnanadev, these lifestyle habits are helpful ways to keep your heart young and healthy.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is very important. Diets containing high fiber and low fat, like vegetables and fruits, beans, fish, low fat dairy foods, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil should be major part of our daily intake. We should limit the intake of salt, sugar, alcohol, red meat, full fat dairy products, and fried foods.
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An important risk factor for heart attack in young is cigarette smoking. It increases blood pressure and inflammation which promotes deposition of fat in arteries. Even passive smoking is hazardous. Even in daily practice, a majority of patients with heart problems are smokers. The risk of heart disease starts to come down immediately after quitting and it reduces to 50 percent after a year of quitting smoking.
Lack of physical activity is one of the major risk factors of heart health. Regular physical activity helps to control weight, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol and decreases the chances of diabetes. As per the guidelines, one should aim to do least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercises like brisk walking. Even 75 minutes of vigorous intensity of aerobic activity like running, and two or more strength training sessions a week can suffice. There is no need to perform very high intensity exercise to have clinical benefits.
Especially after you hit 40 years of age, if you plan to perform high intensity activity, it is worth getting prior cardiac evaluation.
Maintaining healthy weight and Body Mass Index is a good way to prevent heart disease. A BMI of less than 23 is recommended for Indians. Reducing belly fat with a target waist circumference of less than 102 cm and 89 cm for women is recommended.
Sleep disorders like insomnia, obstructive sleep apnoea predispose to heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes. Quality sleep for 7 to 8 hours per day is adequate. Managing mental stress is very important.
Stress increases cortisol and other hormones, which is detrimental to the heart. Physical activities like yoga relaxation exercises and meditation will help in coping up with stress.
Regular health screening for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol will help in early diagnosis of these risk factors and to take appropriate measures. One of the most important tips to keep your heart healthy is to be cautious and aware.
Once the heart disease is established, it is mostly irreversible. But it can only be controlled. Hence, in order to prevent developing heart disease, the measures described above should start at an early age and it should be a sustained effort. These measures have the added benefit of reducing the chance of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and many mental disorders.