After hearing stories of how someone young and active died of heart attack it is time to get aware about heart diseases on this occasion of World Heart Day.

Until now it was thought that heart diseases only affect males and females have cardio-protective hormone called estrogen which prevents heart diseases in women. But this myth is broken by recent studies at American Heart Association, these studies conclude that more women than men die of cardiovascular diseases globally. The risk of cardiovascular diseases is compounded during pregnancy and risk factor assessment and management is very essential during this period.Generally too, being aware of risk factors of cardiac diseases can help to manage them. This is the reason why preventive cardiology is such a popular treatment all over the world and gaining roots in India.

Diet is the most important modifiable risk factor in heart diseases. Include lot of foods which have low-salt, low-saturated fat, high fiber content. Having oatmeal/muesli and a fruit like apple or papaya once a day and adding salads and citrus fruits on alternate days really helps. 10 gm of raw garlic taken daily has an ability to prevent clogging arteries. But make sure you don’t have it before going to office or a party.

Having tobacco in any form is injurious to heart. Smokers have a much higher risk for heart diseases. So quit it as soon as possible.

Exercise is one thing by which you can actually reverse heart disease. Just 45 minutes of exercise daily will make you healthy, slim and physically and mentally active and not prevent heart disease. Choose an exercise you enjoy be it running, walking, cycling or swimming. Outdoor games are also excellent examples of exercise.

Last but not the least is to reduce mental stress by listening to music, indulging in a hobby, dancing, being generous and compassionate. Also by using heart to what it is actually meant for: LOVE for ALL.

World Heart Day calls on individuals to take their first 10 steps to Heart Health: (Source: World Heart Federation)

1.     Healthy food intake

~ Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid saturated fat. Beware of processed foods, which often contain high level of salt.

2.     Get active and take heart

~ Even 30 minutes of activity can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes and your work will benefit too.

3.     Say no to tobacco

~ Your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time.

4.     Maintain a healthy weight

~ Weight loss, especially together with lowered salt intake, leads to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major factor for approximately half of all heart diseases and strokes.

5.     Know your number

~ Visit a healthcare professional who can measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, together with waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index. Once you know your overall risk, you can develop a specific plan of action to improve your heart health.

6.     Limit your alcohol intake

~ Restrict the amount of alcoholic drinks that you consume. Excessive intake of alcohol can cause your blood pressure to rise and your weight to increase.

7.     Insist on a smoke-free environment

~ Demand a tobaco ban for a 100% smoke-free workplace. Support to adoption of smoking-cessation services and encourage your employer to provide help to those wanting to quit tobacco.

8.     Bring exercise to the workplace

~ Include physical activity in your working schedule. Cycle to work if possible, take the stairs, exercise or go for a walk during your lunch breaks and encourage others as well.

9.     Choose healthy food option

~ Ask for healthy food at your work canteen, or find nearby cafes or restaurant serving healthy meals.

10.  Encourage stress-free moment

~ While stress has not been shown to be a direct risk factor for heart disease and stroke, it is related to smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating.

Also, take time for lunch away from your workplace to get some fresh air and have regular breaks during the day. Try stretching or exercising for five minutes twice a day.

In the past decade, many businesses have recognized the importance of employee health and have committed to include health promotion in their corporate agenda.

However, not just employers need to be motivated; everyone can play a role in improving health in the workplace. Through employees, heart healthy habit can reach their family and friends for an even greater impact.

So I conclude by wishing you a very hale and hearty HEART.

One which is joyous and fit….

Kiran Mahadik(MSPT)