Please read this very carefully.
A large study from McMaster University Canada, and some researches in India and Pakistan have come to a know that:
• We the South Asians have 5-6 times higher risk of Coronary Heart Disease than Europeans, Africans or other ethnic populations
• The Heart disease in South Asians occurs at a premature age ( below 40 years of age) and are at a younger age group at the time of Hospitalisation.
• We the South Asians by the virtue of our genes are predisposed to Heart disease which then gets compounded by our un healthy lifestyle.
• The South Asians also have a higher incidence of Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol levels as compared to other communities.
What exactly happens in a coronary heart disease?
The heart muscle which works every second of our life, is supplied oxygen by coronary arteries. As the ageing occurs or due to excess fat or smoking or other reasons the fat starts to deposit causing the arteries to narrow down. As a result the blood supply to the heart decreases.
In situations like stress or heavy work, when heart muscles need more oxygen, the inadequate supply cause chest pain. This pain is called angina. If a person rests, this can be reversed.
If this lack of oxygen is prolonged it leads to permanent damage to the heart muscle which we call Heart attack ( medical name is Myocardial Infarction).
How do we know if it is a heart attack?
The symptoms of heart attack can vary. The typical symptoms are given as in the picture below:
However there could be unusual signs too.
Anxiety, denial or even the thought that ‘it could be a heart attack’ can be a symptom.
Hence anytime you feel unwell, and your inner voice calls for a fear, don’t delay and consult a doctor immediately.
Why do we need to worry about the heart disease?
Audio in Urdu/Hindi Part 1:
What should we do to prevent Heart disease?
We cannot change our ethnicity, age, gender, Family history.
But then the good news is that there are certain factors which we can modify, so that we can minimise the chances of developing this problem, early in our life. The studies have proven that if we follow a healthy life style, we may be able to delay these problems by as much as 10 to 15 years.
The preventive steps to be taken are in fact a repeat of the steps in Health Living blog.
Step 1: Be physically active—We need minimum of 30 min of exercise each day or 150 min of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week to keep the heart fit.
You should know what should be your target heart rate while doing different types of activities. You gain the most benefits and lessen the risks when you exercise in your target heart rate zone.
(For more details about your target heart rate related to the type of exercise can be seen in this link: http://getfitwithval.com/target-heart-rate-chart/)
Step 2: Maintain a healthy weight and waist circumference.
We discussed Weight and importance of BMI in previous blog >> Living a healthy lifestyle.
Two recent studies have found that to asses one’s risk of Heart Disease the best measure is the ‘ waist circumference’.
(One of the reasons for using waist circumference is that it directly measures increased fat mass around your organs, fat known as visceral fat.)
Please note below the normal limits waist circumference in our South Asian men and women. And also not that we need to have them less than the other ethnicities to keep healthy.
Waist circumference Men Women
South Asian heritage 90cms 80cms
Caucasians, Africans 104cms 90cms
See the video to learn how to measure the waist circumference accurately:
(For details of weight BMI refer to the previous blog on healthy living)
Step 3: Eat a healthy low fat diet: Our second blog was all about healthy eating. Please refer to the blog >> Eating your way to good health.
Step 4: Know and control your Blood Pressure
Do you know what your BP, last measured is?
Do you know what the normal range of Blood Pressure is?
It is important to check BP regularly and ask the doctor how much was the reading, and preferably note it down on a card. So that when it is repeated, you can compare from the previous reading.
An ideal BP must be below 140/90 mmHg.
Above this will cause more effort for the heart muscles to pump the blood through the arteries.
Caution: Thanks to another doctor friend, Kavita Desai’s reminder, it is very important to understand that if you measure it at home, the correct method to record accurate Blood Pressure should be learnt.You can learn it from your doctor, hands on or check on the net. (Please refer to the link in the comment box for it).
In case your Blood Pressure is high you must consult a specialist to get it in control either by Lifestyle change, or by medication. Do not be apprehensive of BP medication if you are advised.
Myth: It is a myth that BP medications are harmful.
Fact: In fact blood pressure if not controlled is more harmful and can cause damage to kidneys, eyes and even lead to brain haemorrhage.
Step 5: Know and control your Cholesterol
Do you know what your total cholesterol level is?
Do you know it is important to know the LDL ( bad cholesterol) and HDL( good cholesterol) levels too?
There are two kinds of fat:
Saturated fats are not heart healthy, since they are most known for raising your LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol).
Unsaturated fats are heart-healthy fats – they have the ability to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).
Cholesterol levels are generally related to our diet intake. But South Asians have cholesterol problems which run in families called as familial Hyperlipidemias.
Hence get your cholesterol check regularly from an early age and keep it under control through life style change or through medication under Doctor’s supervision.
Exercise help reduce bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol.
Do you know that the oils you use can contain different proportions of saturated and unsaturated fats?
The more the unsaturated fat, the healthier is the oil.
Step 6: If you are a Diabetic manage and keep in control your Blood Sugar levels.
Diabetes causes hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). And hence can damage the arteries of the heart too. The nerves also get damaged, so when a diabetic gets heart attack, may be without any pain symptoms known as silent heart attack.
It is very important that if you are diabetic, to keep the blood sugar under control and know that poor control can lead to heart, kidney and other problems
( A detail on DM will follow next ).
Step 7: Cut down on unhealthy habits:
- Reduce your Alcohol intake
- Stop smoking as smoking causes heart vessels to get brittle and hence early heart attacks
- Stress also raises blood pressure and heart disease.
A rigorous effort to maintain these steps can help reduce the chances of heart disease and delay by 10-15 years.
Don’t delay: Please be sure of the symptoms of heart disease, and even if you are lean and thin, or have no previous symptoms. If chest pain or any other symptoms occur, or even if you just fear it could be heart attack, do not delay medical advice.
It may not be serious, but if it is timely check up, it can save life.
So please stay fit, active , eat healthy and be stress free to minimize your risk of a heart attack.
If you love quality life, love and take care of your HEART ❤