Dr. Prasad M R, MD, DM (Cardio), FACC (USA) has shared some tips for a healthy heart.
1. Quit smoking and chewing tobacco completely
Tobacco is the most common cause of heart attack in patients younger than 40 years, and it reduces lifespan by at least 1 decade. For smokers, quitting smoking gives more benefit than any preventive medicine presently available. Even smoking one cigarette a day significantly increases heart attack risk. Significant contribution to “feeling relaxed and good” after smoking comes from the breathing technique involved in smoking rather than tobacco. There are many effective breathing and meditation techniques, nicotine replacement therapies and drugs available to help quit smoking. Those who have attempted to quit but failed should take the help of psychiatrists and psychologists.
2. Get physically active
40 minutes of brisk walk /day for at least five days a week reduces the risk of heart attack by 50% and diabetes by 60%. Any aerobics like jogging, cycling, swimming, etc are also beneficial. One can rotate between them to beat the boredom. Start slowly and increase gradually if you haven’t exercised for months. People with chronic knee pain should exercise using other joints for at least 40 minutes a day. Reduce weight if your BMI is >25kg/m2.
3. Know what is happening inside your body!
Undergo a health check up on regular basis even though you are apparently healthy (must if you are a male older than 40 years or a female above 50 years of age) to know your BP, sugar and cholesterol levels.
4. Ensure adequate control of Blood sugars, BP and cholesterol levels by frequent monitoring if you are already taking medicines.
5. Consume vegetables, fruits, nuts, sprouts and whole grains on daily basis
An adult is supposed to consume 3 servings of fruits (total of 200g/day), 6-8 servings of vegetables (total of 500-600gm/day) every day. Eat multicolored seasonal vegetables and fruits every day. Vegetables may be eaten raw, blanched or steamed Try to grow vegetables yourself in kitchen or terrace garden. Clean them by soaking in salt water for few minutes. At least 2 servings of fish per week (1 serving is 200gm) are recommended if non-vegetarian is acceptable. Fish known to be highly beneficial are Salmon, Tuna and Mackerel (Bangda).
6. Consume 30gm of nuts per day (Almonds, walnuts, groundnuts and pista), nuts should be unsalted and unroasted.
7. Reduce trans fats (deep fried and bakery products like pastries, muffins, iced cakes, doughnuts, pies, cookies, biscuits and microwave popcorn), saturated fats and refined (simple) carbohydrates (sweets and sugary drinks). Choose oils rich in MUFA and PUFA (Olive, Canola, groundnut, Sunflower, Safflower, Soya bean oils…). As far as possible, avoid heating oils or heat them minimally. Avoid or reduce Stir fry, panfry (Tadka or Oggarane) and deep fry in kitchen to reduce trans fats. On the contrary, naturally occurring trans fats found in milk and milk products are good for health. Prefer brown rice over white rice and whole wheat in place refined wheat.
8. If you are consuming alcohol, do so in moderation
Those who cannot restrict minimal alcohol consumption should not drink. Accumulating to weekends or binge drinking is hazardous.
9. Monitor your stress levels, moods and emotions. Yoga and meditations may help you to; relax, have sound sleep for eight hours, de-addict from psychotropic substances and also to keep your pride and self esteem high. Take the help of psychologists/psychiatrists when you can’t handle.
10. Discuss with your doctor regarding the requirement of statin and/or low- dose (baby) aspirin to prevent future heart attacks! Doctor will decide regarding requirement based on your calculated 10-20 year risk of heart attack and other health issues.
About the Author: Dr. Prasad M R, MD, DM (Cardio), FACC (USA) is an Interventional Cardiologist at KLES Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital Belagavi.