Leading a sedentary lifestyle with little or zero exercise could lead to poor heart health.
The sudden death of legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne has left many stunned. Warne, one of the greatest bowlers in the history of cricket who revolutionised the leg-spin style, died of a heart attack on March 4. He was 52.
A few months preceding Warne’s death, another young celebrity died following a heart attack. On September 2, 2021, popular television star, Sidharth Shukla succumbed to a heart attack. He was only 40.
Warne, an accomplished sportsman, may have retired from international cricket. But his fitness regime remained intact. Leading up to demise, most of his social media posts concentrated on his “weight-loss journey” and his sporting endeavours. Shukla, too, was known to be a regular at the gymnasium. The TV icon, who regaled fans with his workout updates even while he was cooped up for months in the ‘Bigg Boss’ house – a show which he eventually won that year – posted workout videos regularly on his social channels.
In the last few years, several studies have reported a sudden rise of heart failure or heart diseases in young adults. Cardiac arrest has emerged as one of the leading causes of deaths around the world.
What Causes A Heart Attack?
A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. This blockage is most often a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances which forms a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart. But sometimes, a plaque can rupture and form a clot that blocks the flow of blood to the heart.
Without blood, the heart tissues loses oxygen and it leads to death.
We spoke to a few experts to understand what’s hurting the heart, and the steps that one could take in order to keep it healthy.
What Hurts The Heart?
“Causes of poor heart health are called risk factors, which are lack of sleep, less exercise, improper diet leading to weight gain, high cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure. These can lead to the weakening of the heart and cause heart failure,” says Dr. Pravin Kahale, Consultant, Cardiology from Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle with little or zero exercise could lead to poor heart health. “Poor dietary intake with unhealthy fats and calories, no regular checks on vitals (preventive health checks), family predisposition and unchecked use of alcohol and smoking are some of the causes that lead to poor heart health or a heart failure,” says Dr Mukesh Goel, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
Don’t Miss The Early Signs
Early warning signs are the risk factors that when missed can often aggravate the heart health. Dr Kale waves the red flag at “high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and pre-diabetes”.
Listing these as early warning bells which signal it is a sign of future heart problems, he highlights the need to “reduce risk factors to have better lifestyle management and people with these existing conditions need to manage the disease well.”
Dr. Goel lists some warning signs:
- Feeling of discomfort in chest on any activity
- Unusual fatigue
- Unusually increased pulse rate
Start Now, Benefit Later
After two years of staying indoors which saw very little movement, we are finally going back to life as we knew it. So how and from where should we begin to maintain a healthy heart?
Dr. Goel urges people to watch what they eat and live an active life with regular exercise. He urges people to quit smoking, control their alcohol intake, avoid stress and get annual preventive health check-ups done.
Dr. Kahale adds that people also need to maintain their body weight and get a good night’s sleep.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, a Consultant At Interventional Cardiology in Apollo Hospitals of Navi Mumbai, calls it the ‘Six E’ rules that are easy to follow and remember.
- Emotional Health
- Eat Properly
- Enough Good Quality Sleep
- Exit Addiction
- Evaluate your numbers (Sugar, BP, Cholesterol, Weight) regularly
Live The Healthy Life
If you have a weak heart and want to get healthy, then you must incorporate some changes in your existing routine.
Dr. Goel suggests:
- Regular preventive health check-ups
- A watch on diabetes and hypertension
- No smoking
- Restricted consumption of alcohol
- Exercise if allowed by the current healthcare expert
The Way To A Good Heart:
According to Dr. Kahale, a healthy heart needs to watch, and count the calories, too. And this means, effectively, limiting salt and sweet consumption. He also suggests adding more salads to the diet and being more generous when it comes to including vegetables and soups as these have high nutritional value.
Dr. Gupta adds that one must also avoid oily food, dairy products.
“A wholesome diet cooked in rotational oils including cereals, multigrain, fresh fruits, vegetables and minimal intake of salt and dairy and poultry products,” says Dr. Goel.
Risk Assessment: Men Or Women?
Both men and women have a high risk of heart attack or heart failure. , Women, however, are protected from it until menopause.
“Female before menopause are slightly protected because of hormones,” says Dr. Gupta, adding “These days incidence in females have also increased because of bad lifestyle.”
But post-menopausal women especially in their 60s, have the same risks of heart illnesses.
“Women in their 40s and 50s show fewer cardiac-related issues compared to men, but in the post-menopausal women especially in their 60s women also face same risks of heart diseases,” Dr. Kahale adds.
The family’s health history could increase your risk of developing heart illness in many ways. For example, you could have inherited genes that are prone to heart diseases or it could also speed-up your chances of developing heart problems.
“Family history can’t change,” says Dr. Gupta, “but it repeats only 10- 15%, Environment causes are the dominant cause and can be managed by healthy diet.”
However, there are several preventive steps one could take.
“Frequently have health check-ups in order to keep hypertension, diabetes and other vitals in control, along with a strict check on the current health status of the body. This shall enable an expert to timely diagnose the risk of any approaching cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Goel adds.
Given the fact that heart does a lot of workload in order to keep the body going, it becomes our responsibility to make sure we keep it healthy, too, and a proper diet, enough sleep, exercise and lifestyle changes can really help with that.