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For a healthy heart

On World Heart Day, Dr Hasmukh Ravat tells you how to keep hearty and happy. Read on.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 27, 2008 19:50 IST
Dr Hasmukh Ravat

Heart disease causes 17.5 million deaths each year. Amongst every 100 patients in India, 15 to 20 per cent heart attacks are observed in youngsters who are less than 35 years, compared to two to five per cent in
the west.

Today is World Heart Day and this year’s theme is ‘Know Your Risk’.

Some contributing risk factors can be controlled.. others can’t. Any of them, singly or in combination, can make you vulnerable.

Risk factors that can be modified
High blood pressure: the No 1 risk factor for approximately half of all heart disease and stroke. People with high blood pressure are three times more at risk.

Repeated checks are necessary as BP fluctuates everyday. Lifestyle changes, such as reduced salt intake and increased physical activity, and/or with medication, helps control it.

High blood cholesterol: causes about one-third of heart diseases and strokes worldwide.

High glucose levels: diabetics are twice as likely as non-diabetics to suffer.

About three-fourths of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

Tobacco smoke: smokers are at risk twice as much as non-smokers, exposure to smoke can also be fatal.

Obesity: excess weight increases the heart’s work. Increased weight-to-height ratio and accumulation of abdominal fat is equally dangerous.

Lack of exercise: increases the risk by 150 per cent

Diet: too much salt leads to high BP, too many fats clogged arteries, low fruit and vegetable intake accounts for about 20 per cent of heart diseases.

Factors that cannot be modified
Age: the risk doubles every 10 years after the age of 55.
Family history: if a parent or sibling has a coronary history before the age of 55 years (male) or 65 years (female), the risk increases.
Gender: men are at greater risk than pre-menopausal women .After menopause, they are equally placed.

Minimise risks
Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Limit your salt intake to less than five grams per day (about one teaspoon).

Even 30 minutes of brisk activity can lower BP.
Quit smoking and avoid heavy drinking.
Maintain a healthy weight and control your cholesterol level.
Have regular checkups, keep diabetes in check and keep tabs on your BP.

(The writer is the head of Cardiology Department, Wockhardt Hospital)