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Keeping your heart healthy | The Daily Star

by MD Ashraful Islam

‘My Heart, Your Heart’ — the theme is about celebrating and connecting like-minded people. Which create a sense of commitment around the common cause of heart health. It is a concept that encapsulate the values of the World Heart Day.

The World Heart Federation organises World Heart Day on September 29 every year to emphasise on the importance of being active and staying informed about cardiovascular health and diseases.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the reason of around 30% deaths of all global deaths. Cardiovascular diseases is the world’s biggest killer claiming 17.7 million lives per year.

Cardiovascular diseases include heart conditions consisting of blood clots, cardiomyopathies, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, stroke etc. The risk factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases include sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, alcohol intake, bad cholesterol, and high blood pressure etc.

This year, the World Heart Day has decided to bring into perspective four important dimensions of how one can take care of one’s heart:

Know your heart

Here we like to emphasise on how knowing one’s heart is essential and that it requires understanding the risks you are prone to. This would involve getting back on track, visiting the doctor and knowing where you stand.

Fuel your heart

Eating healthy is one of the most important steps towards ensuring that the heart is fuelled with clean energy. Omega-3 rich fish, nuts, berries, oats and legumes are some of the easily available foods that one can consume to ensure the heart’s good health.

Move your heart

This is another pivotal measure required to ensure that the heart stays healthy and hale. Remaining active, breaking a sweat and staying fit through exercises and yoga is another way one can ensure good health.

Love your heart

While it is next to impossible to stay away from fast food, mostly because of the erratic work timings and schedules one follow, it is important to:

♦ Eat a healthy diet, which emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and low fat dairy food. It is essential to take plenty of potassium, which can help to prevent and control of high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat to prevent the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

♦ Decrease the salt in diet. A lower sodium level — 1,500 mg a day — is appropriate for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who are black or who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Otherwise healthy people can aim for 2,300 mg a day or less.

♦ Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping a healthy weight or losing weight which can help to control high blood pressure and lower your risk of related health problems and keep the heart healthy.

♦ Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure, manage stress, which reduce the risk of several health problems and keep weight under control. For most healthy adults, it is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination or moderate and vigorous activity.

♦ Stop alcohol intake.

♦ Do not smoke. Tobacco injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries.

♦ Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping technique such as muscle relaxation, deep breathing or meditation. Getting regular physical activity and plenty of sleep can help, too.

Hence, the World Heart Day celebration plays a very important role in changing all of this. It is a very crucial global platform that people can use to raise awareness and encourage individuals, families, communities and governments to take action now. Together everybody has the power to reduce the premature deaths from, and burden of, cardiovascular diseases, helping people everywhere to live longer.

The writer works at the Department of Cardiology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka.

Email: drsmmzaman@yahoo.com

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