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A cardiologist reveals 5 ways to take care of yourself if heart disease runs in the family

Updated on:28 September 2020, 15:23pm IST
On World Heart Day 2020, a top cardiologist reveals how to maintain good heart health, if you have a family history of cardiac-related ailments.
Geetika Sachdev
Maintain a heart-friendly lifestyle with these tips. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Over the years, our lifestyles have become way more comfortable, thanks to technology. You can get everything—from food to electronics, to even your favourite pair of shoes—within a few clicks. But guess what? Although we may be fascinated by all this progress, we’ve gone backwards when it comes to our health, especially when it comes to our heart health. 

As per the World Health Organisation, the incidence of heart diseases is steadily rising, so much so that 23.6 million people are predicted to die from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) by 2030. And now with covid-19 looming large over our lives, people with pre-existing heart conditions and comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes have to be even more cautious. 

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Some of the most common heart-related conditions include heart failure, atherosclerosis, arrhythmia, heart valve problems, and coronary artery disease, among others.

So we got Dr Deep Chandra Pant, senior interventional cardiologist, Shri Ram Murti Smarak Institute of Medical Sciences, Bareilly, to tell us all about how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, especially if your family has a history of heart diseases. 

How to protect yourself from heart diseases
Of course, genetics play an important role when it comes to heart-related ailments, but there are several other risk factors too. These include smoking, high blood pressure, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, stress, obesity, and poor hygiene. Taking care of these risk factors can help you stay protected from heart diseases. 

“Indians are anyway more susceptible to heart diseases due to their lifestyles as also genetic factors. That’s why they need to exercise more caution,” advises Dr Pant.

Also try these 5 tips to embrace a heart-friendly lifestyle

1. Go for preventive health checkups
Since you are aware that heart-related issues run in your family, it is best to take charge of your health and take precautions at the outset. People with a family history of such issues are at a higher risk of silent heart attacks, which is why it is important to be very careful!

“In several cases, a person may not display any of the classic and obvious symptoms such as chest pain, cold sweats, and breathlessness. However, the risk of a person dying from a silent heart attack is the same as that due to symptom-related heart attacks. What exacerbates the situation is the lack of awareness about this condition and the fact that it becomes apparent only when a chance electrocardiogram detects damage to the heart muscles,” explains Dr Pant.

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2. Be even more careful during the pandemic
“Exercise more caution during a health crisis like covid-19, particularly if you have comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes. It is important to avoid skipping any medication that you may be on, and do not ignore common symptoms like chest pain and tightness, shortness of breath, nausea, indigestion, heartburn and pain that spreads to the arm. Remember to monitor vitals like blood pressure and blood sugar regularly,” he advises.

3. Quit smoking
Kicking that cigarette butt out of your life is important! After all, it helps to reduce blood pressure, improves circulation, and increases the oxygen supply.

4. Consume a healthy diet
The key to a heart-healthy lifestyle is consuming a balanced diet that is packed with all kinds of nutrients. Consume a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids. The intake of salt, saturated fats, sweets, red meats, and trans fats should be reduced, explains Dr. Pant.

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5. Get physically active
We are all bogged down by work and hectic schedules, but it is critical to engage in a moderate workout for at least 30 minutes, four to five times a week. “During the pandemic you need to ensure social distancing, so small things like taking the stairs will also help,” advises Dr. Pant.

Unlike earlier, women are equally susceptible to heart diseases. “It was earlier believed that they were protected due to oestrogen levels in their body. However lifestyle factors are said to have negated that protection in present times,” explains Dr. Pant.

So ladies, follow these simple tips to have a heart-friendly lifestyle. As they say, prevention is better than cure!

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Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.