Worried about heart attack in post Covid times? Signs of an unhealthy heart; tips to improve heart health | Health - Hindustan Times
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Worried about heart attack in post Covid times? Signs of an unhealthy heart; tips to improve heart health

By, New Delhi
May 13, 2024 03:25 PM IST

Impact of virus, sedentary lifestyle, or vaccine; what's ailing your heart in post Covid era? Know signs of an unhealthy heart, tips to boost heart health.

Incidents of heart attack in post Covid times seems to have increased. While the impact of virus and also that of Covid vaccine is under the scanner, experts say sedentary lifestyle, increasing stress and poor eating habits could also be impacting cardiovascular health. Taking steps to boost your heart function can improve overall quality of life apart from preventing events like heart attack or cardiac arrest. To prevent heart health woes, it's important to notice signs of an unhealthy heart and take measures to correct it. If you feel shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness or fatigue, you may want to consult a health expert to determine if all is well with your heart health. (Also read | Top heart health mistakes to avoid in summers; tips for cardiovascular wellness)

 If you feel shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness or fatigue, you may want to consult a health expert to determine if all is well with your heart health.(Shutterstock)
If you feel shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness or fatigue, you may want to consult a health expert to determine if all is well with your heart health.(Shutterstock)

Sedentary lifestyle and reliance on processed and junk food could be perhaps the biggest lifestyle factors that may be impacting our overall health. With little nutrition, low fibre and loads of sugar and salt, these foods can damage heart, kidney, liver, increasing risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol.

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Has Covid-19 impacted our heart?

"The Covid-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on global health, revealing a myriad of issues beyond the direct impact of the virus itself. Among these are the concerning trends in heart health that have emerged in the wake of the pandemic. Reports have surfaced of individuals experiencing heart attacks without typical blockages in their arteries. Instead, these incidents have been attributed to the inflammatory nature of Covid-19, which can instigate clot formation throughout the body," says Dr Ajit Menon, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital.

Possible impact of Covid vaccine on heart

"While some have sought to attribute such complications to Covid-19 vaccines, evidence to support this claim is lacking. On the contrary, vaccines have played a crucial role in mitigating the severity of the pandemic and saving lives. However, the broader picture reveals a landscape fraught with risk factors for heart disease that transcend the immediate threat of Covid-19," says Dr Menon.

Modern lifestyle and heart diseases

The increasing incidence of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events could be a combination of various factors such as stress, poor dietary habits, and sedentary behaviour.

"Stress, though difficult to quantify, exerts a tangible toll on the body, exacerbating existing risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. These factors, compounded by a lack of physical activity and an unhealthy diet, contribute to the increasing incidence of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. It is essential to recognize that while Covid-19 may have accentuated these risks, it is not solely responsible for the current state of heart health. Instead, a holistic approach is necessary, focusing on lifestyle modifications and preventive measures to safeguard cardiovascular well-being," adds the expert.

Signs of unhealthy heart

Here are some signs of an unhealthy heart to watch out for as per Dr Menon:

Chest discomfort: This may manifest as pressure, squeezing, or pain in the chest, which can radiate to the arms, back, neck, or jaw.

Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing, especially during exertion or while lying down, may indicate underlying heart issues.

Fatigue: Persistent fatigue, even after adequate rest, can be a warning sign of heart problems.

Dizziness or lightheadedness: Feeling dizzy or faint, particularly upon standing, may signal inadequate blood flow to the brain.

Swelling: Edema, or swelling, in the legs, ankles, feet, or abdomen could indicate heart failure or other cardiovascular issues.

Lifestyle changes to improve heart health

To improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease, consider implementing the following lifestyle changes as suggested by Dr Menon:

Exercise regularly: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

Adopt a balanced diet: Emphasise fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while minimising processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars.

Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, so seek support and resources to quit smoking for good.

Manage stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to alleviate the harmful effects of chronic stress.

Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol: Keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly, and work with your healthcare provider to manage them within healthy ranges.

Control diabetes: If you have diabetes, carefully manage your blood sugar levels through medication, diet, exercise, and regular monitoring.

Limit salt intake: Excessive salt consumption can elevate blood pressure, so aim to reduce salt intake by cooking at home using fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods high in sodium.

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