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Healthy Living

There are many ways by which you can reduce your risk of Cardiac Disease or Heart Attack. These includes healthy living, healthy eating and control of risk factors. By Adopting these you can reduce the progression of disease or even can reverse the narrowing of coronary arteries.

1. Stop Smoking : Smoking is the most important preventable cause of coronary artery disease. Smoking by itself increases the risk of heart disease. When it acts with the other factors, it greatly increases risk from those factors. Smoking decreases tolerance for physical activity and increases the tendency for blood to clot. It also decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. Even passive smoking i.e. inhaling smoke while sitting with smokers, is known to increase coronary risk. Cessation of smoking is the most important step in heart disease prevention. One should avoid cigarette or bidi smoking and tobacco chewing. To keep away from smoking not only prevent heart diseases, but also prevent lung, stomach and tongue cancer.

2. Get Active : Regular Physical Activity Helps lower blood pressure, increase HDL “good” cholesterol in your blood, control blood sugar by improving how your body uses insulin, reduce feelings of stress and control body weight. By exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day one can reduce the risk of heart disease. Physical activity = living a longer, healthier life. It not only prolongs longevity, but also adds life to life. The suggested intensity of exercise is moderate to brisk walking 30 minutes daily at least 5 days per week. For exercise, oneneed not join any expensive health club or structured exercise training programs. Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burns calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefits heart, such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking. The simplest, positive change to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise.

3. Weight Loss : Overweight and obesity are strongly associated with the risk of heart disease and stroke. Weight loss leads to substantial health benefits. Modest weight loss of 5 to 10% is associated with significant improvement in blood pressure, lipid profile and glucose tolerance. The ideal way for weight reduction is not clear. Lifestyle changes to encourage weight reduction are disappointing due to poor long term compliance. Effective treatment approach should include multifaceted approach including dietary counseling, behavioral modification, increased physical activity and psychosocial support. One should aim to maintain ideal body weight. The drugs used to reduce weight are associated with unexpected side effects and thus are avoided.

4. Healthy diet : A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to fight heart disease. However, there are a lot of myths regarding healthy eating. Perhaps,the most difficult question to answer is “What should I eat to prevent heart disease?”. Certain basic principles apply while advising on diet in patients with or without heart disease. The total caloric intake must be balanced with the energy expenditure to avoid weight gain. Simple carbohydrates should be avoided in favor of complex carbohydrates with high fibre content. Food should be rich in nutrients. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, but are lower in calories. To get the nutrients you need, choose foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and are low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure. Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight. Soya bean, Rapeseed oil, Mustard oil, Ricebran oil are preferable as cooking oil. Eat fish e.g. salmon in regions where it is available, at least twice a week which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The vegetables and cereals rich in omega 3 fatty acids are flax seed, soyabean, walnuts , scallops, cauliflower, cabbage, cloves. In short, Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Cut trans fats from your diet. Swap saturated fats for unsaturated ones. Eat lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and soy. Avoid red meat, as this tends to be high in fat and cholesterol. Eat complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta and limit simple carbohydrates such as regular soda, sugar, and sweets. Cut down on salt.

5. Manage Blood Pressure : Hypertension is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. It's sometimes called "the silent killer" because it has no symptoms. It is also associated with increased risk of heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. Detection and management of hypertension is highly cost effective.Keeping blood pressure in the healthy range reduces the risk of vascular walls becoming overstretched and injured. High blood pressure is manageable. The lifestyle changes which may reduce blood pressure include eating a heart-healthy diet, which may include reducing salt; enjoying regular physical activity; maintaining a healthy weight; managing stress; avoiding alcohol andtobacco use. Drug therapy is recommended in patients who are unable to control their blood pressure despite lifestyle modification. In practice, ultimately most of the patients require more than one drugs to control their blood pressure.

5. Control cholesterol : Cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body because it's used for producing cell membranes and some hormones. But too much cholesterol in the blood is a major risk for heart disease stroke. Cholesterol comes from two sources one produced in the body i.e. endogenous and other from thefood we eat. Liver and other cells in our body make about 75% of blood cholesterol. The other 25% comes from the foods. When too much of it circulates in the blood, it can clog arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. There is a good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is the “Good” cholesterol while LDL and Triglycerides are “Bad” cholesterols. It is important to know blood cholesterol levels. By lowering blood cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, we can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The higher the HDL cholesterol, the better it is. The various approaches to reduce blood cholesterol are lifestyle modification, physical activity, eating food low in cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight and lastly drugs. The drug therapy is very effective in controlling blood cholesterol if lifestyle modifications fails.

7. Manage Diabetes : Diabetes is a powerful risk factor for coronary heart disease. By age of 40, CAD is the leading cause of death in diabetics. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes. Lifestyle modifications and drug treatment of diabetes is important for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

8. Reduce Stress : Stress is the integral part of life. Although data is inconsistent between relation of stress to cardiovascular diseases, strategies to reduce stress can be beneficial for risk reduction especially in patientsafter heart attack. The various ways to combat stress are to exercise regularly, learn to relax, take a break, plan your work and be realistic. The spiritual habits like helping others, avoiding cunning habits, be fair to your colleagues and others, engaging in social welfare activities and religiosity helps in reducing stress as well as living healthy.

9. Limit Alcohol : Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure and lead to heart failure or stroke. It contributes to high triglycerides, produces irregular heartbeats. It contributes to obesity, suicide and accidents. One drink of alcohol contains 14-15 grams of alcohol. The safe limit for alcohol is an average of one drink (<45 cc total volume) for women or two drinks for men. However, it's not recommended that nondrinkers start using alcohol or that drinkers increase the amount they drink. Moderation of alcohol intake is recommended to reduce cardiovascular risk.