Small, proactive lifestyle changes can minimize risks to heart health
As per global reports by the World Health Organization*, heart related ailments have remained the leading cause of mortality at the global level for the last 20 years. India is leading the race, as research reports suggest that mortality from cardiovascular disease in India has grown exponentially, from 2.26 million in 1990 to 4.77 million in 2020. “Non-Communicable Diseases, especially heart disease, are major killers and we need to be proactive about heart health and make lifestyle changes” says Dr. Shashank Joshi, Consultant, Lilavati Hospital. So today, on World Health Day, it becomes important to have a conversation about this very important aspect of our health – our heart health.
In a larger conversation about health, heart health is often ignored. Not because people don’t think that the heart is important, but heart health is really considered only when a problem occurs. So if someone has high cholesterol or a more severe condition, steps are taken only then to control it. However, did you know that making small changes to our lifestyles proactively, can actually help reduce the risks to heart health in a big way?
It is a known fact that an unhealthy lifestyle leads to several health issues. This is true for heart related issues too. Our fast paced lifestyles sometimes push us to make unhealthy choices, without realising the impact it could have in the long term. Sedentary lifestyles are on the rise and that coupled with unhealthy eating habits, including skipping meals, can take a toll on one’s heart health. While these are known factors, there are also a few other factors that are not as well known; but can increase the risk to heart health. Lack of sleep is one. As per a study done by Saffolalife* 63% of people in top cities, who sleep less are at heart risk. Another factor that can cause heart risk is stress. The same Saffolalife* study found that 65% of people in top cities, who suffer from stress are at heart risk. What is interesting to note in the study is that 58% of people, who are at heart risk due to stress, do not consider stress among the top 3 heart risk factors, in top metros. This lack of awareness can be a huge impediment to living a heart healthy lifestyle.
Heart related issues are not confined to any one sex as both are equally at high risk due to lifestyles. However, small changes can really go a long way in reducing this risk for both men and women. Food is a very important contributor to help you stay heart healthy. Ensuring that you eat healthy by including more vegetables and fibre in your diet, choosing a good heart healthy oil to cook your food in, and making sure you eat your meals on time can really help kick start your heart healthy lifestyle. Taking some time out to exercise will also definitely help with heart health. It is recommended that an individual exercises for 45 minutes a day for at least 4 days a week for optimal health. Adequate sleep is also an important aspect to consider. It is recommended that one gets 7 hrs to 7.5 hrs of sleep every night. For physical and mental health, managing your stress can make a big difference. Doing meditation and taking time to de-stress is very helpful for your heart health as well as overall health. And of course, opting for regular check-ups can help enormously by keeping you informed about the state of your health.
As we move towards a more technologically advanced society, which makes life more stressful and less active, we need to be more proactive in our approach to health and heart health. So this World Health Day take a pledge to make your and your family’s future, a heart healthy one.
- SaffolaLife Study, 2019: 426* respondents in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi & Hyderabad in the age group of 30-55 years, meeting the necessary criteria.
- World Health Organization Study