One in four people, even when they have 70% or more heart blockages, don’t show any symptoms or report only certain vague ones like fatigue.
—Dr. Ashok Seth, Head of Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Hospital
‘Use heart to know heart.’ The 2023 World Health Day campaign stresses on the importance of understanding our hearts to ensure a healthier life. The Indian Heart Association indicates that 50% of all heart attacks in Indian men occur below the age of 50. Alarmingly, heart attacks are now more prevalent among younger age groups, putting those in their 30s and 40s at a higher risk.
Even those renowned for their fitness, such as celebrities and fitness models, are succumbing to them. What’s causing all this heartbreak? We aren’t sure yet, but bad lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, stress, lack of physical activities, and eating unhealthy play a big part.
However, heart conditions aren’t just limited to lifestyle. There are many other contributing factors that most people are unaware of.
Read on as we support the World Heart Day initiative by demystifying the unknown heart facts that can distort its health, guiding you toward a long, healthier life.
Extended sitting is a heart hazard
In a recent report, PubMed highlighted that extended sitting, due to its association with sedentary behaviour, is linked to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to the accumulation of fat around the abdominal area which results in a higher body mass index. This leads to our blood flow becoming slower leading to more deposits of fat around our heart in the form of cholesterol, thereby risking your heart health.When people sit for prolonged periods, the muscles burn less fat, and blood flows more sluggishly, allowing fatty acids to clog the heart more easily.
Don’t worry, just start getting more active by including these simple steps in your daily routine. Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure that sitting doesn’t become the new smoking for you.
- Break long periods of sitting by standing, stretching, or walking for just three minutes every half-hour.
- Regular exercise is a must. This could be brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or any form of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.
- Focus on maintaining a balanced diet. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can assist in managing weight and improving heart health.
Inflammation is not good for your heart
Inflammation serves as a component of the body’s healing mechanism. Despite its useful effects, it can also lead to diseases or increase complications, including heart and circulatory diseases. How does inflammation exert such diverse effects? It can manifest in two forms: acute, which is for a short time, and chronic, which persists over time.
Chronic inflammation is severely detrimental to heart health. It is involved in the development and progression of atherosclerosis, where inflammatory cells lead to the formation of plaques in the arteries, compromising blood flow and leading to coronary artery disease. Persistent inflammation can damage blood vessels, and it’s a critical component in the development of heart disease, contributing to plaque rupture and, subsequently, heart attacks and strokes.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who eat lots of anti-inflammatory or ‘good-for-you’ foods like green veggies, spinach, broccoli, carrots, berries, and brown rice had fewer heart problems. On the other side, people who ate more ‘bad-for-you’ foods like red and processed meats, sweets, and sugary drinks had a higher chance of having a heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. These patterns are true even when considering factors like age, weight, health conditions, and smoking.
So, next time you get a craving, you know what to eat.
Hormones and heart’s relationship is complicated
Hormones influence many aspects of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart and blood vessels. While hormones play a key role in maintaining cardiovascular health, increased hormonal levels can contribute to cardiovascular disease.
For instance, high levels of cortisol due to stress can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and elevated sugar levels, all of which are risk factors for heart-related diseases. Similarly, insulin imbalance can lead to diabetes, a critical risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
To mitigate these risks, maintaining a balanced lifestyle is crucial. Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and adequate sleep can help in maintaining balanced cortisol levels. Finally, regular check-ups can help in the early detection and management of any hormonal imbalances, preventing them from escalating into severe heart conditions.
Eat your heart out? Don’t!
Have you ever been so angry that it “made your blood boil”? If so, it’s best to avoid such s. Research by Harvard Medical School showed that the two hours following an episode of intense anger can slightly increase a person’s risk of experiencing chest pain (angina), a heart attack, a stroke, or a dangerous heart rhythm. Indeed, anger can set off physiological alterations impacting your blood, momentarily raising your chances of encountering a heart-related complication.
Then, what should you do? Changing emotional responses like anger isn’t an instantaneous shift; it’s a gradual process that involves understanding, awareness, and intentional practices. The best you can aim for is to manage and control your anger gradually. The NHS Inform suggests some proven tips that can help you deal with your anger issues.
- Know your anger signs to identify and manage anger early.
- Count to 10 to give yourself time for a composed reaction.
- Take long, slow, deep breaths to calm down and reduce tension.
Cholesterol is not always bad for your heart
There is plenty of negativity related to cholesterols. But, not all cholesterols produced by our body are harmful. Some cholesterol is good for our health. And our body needs it to make hormones and create cells. So, why is cholesterol bad-mouthed?
To move across our body, cholesterol needs special proteins called lipoproteins. They come in two varieties: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. When there’s too much LDL cholesterol, it can stick to the sides of our blood vessels, creating a buildup known as plaque. HDL takes this cholesterol back to the liver, which gets rid of it.
A balanced amount of HDL cholesterol can decrease your chances of heart disease and stroke. But how do you know it’s balanced? The American Heart Association recommends everyone over the age of 20 to get their cholesterol tested every four to six years, and even more frequently if you have a risk for heart problems or already have heart disease.
Choose a Healthy Lifestyle and Protect your Heart Health
The World Heart Federation indicates that global deaths from cardiovascular disease jumped from 12.1 million in 1990 to 20.5 million in 2021. That’s a 60% surge in just three decades, making it the leading cause of death in men and women. A healthy heart is the most precious gift one could ever receive. And it’s our responsibility to keep it happy. What’s required is a bit of awareness and proactive measures.
The journey to a healthier heart begins with awareness, and it’s something we can’t afford to overlook. By scheduling regular check-ups through our app and adopting heart-healthy habits, you can pave the way toward a future where heart-related illnesses become a rare occurrence. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear; be proactive about your health. Let’s make everyday World Heart Day by prioritising our cardiovascular health, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones too.
Download the Onsurity Super App to schedule a heart check-up today.