Did you know that September 29 is recognised as the World Heart Day and taking the opportunity of the occasion, I decided to share some facts on Heart-health this month. My paramount intention in writing this is not to dive deep into the elements of cardiovascular health but to bring into light some basic awareness about it.
How well do you know about the common heart diseases- its causes and preventive measures? Exercise, lose weight, eat healthy- the most common advice by a doctor when it comes to heart care but why or what healthy foods to be exact. Will give this some attention now. By the end of this article, you would be easily able to understand how your heart is affected by diseases and how you would be able to avoid that.
Common Heart Conditions
Let’s start with acknowledging some common lifestyle related heart diseases/conditions at first:
- Coronary Heart Disease– Or Coronary Artery Disease develops when the heart is unable to receive enough blood and oxygen from the arteries. This happens when the blood vessels that deliver oxygen rich blood to the heart becomes narrow due to Plaque formation inside the arteries limiting/reducing the amount of blood flow to the heart. Arterial plaque are fatty deposits mainly consisting of fat, cholesterol, some waste products from the cells and the blood clotting agents. This heart disease is majorly responsible for leading a person to a Heart-attack.
- High Blood Pressure– Or Hypertension is caused when the flow of blood passing through the blood vessels is obstructed by the narrowing of those vessels. Narrower the blood vessels, the higher the blood pressure. The reasons for this condition may vary from poor or toxic diet and lifestyle, obesity, lack of physical activities to genetic. A severe pressure built up in the blood vessels delivering blood to the brain may lead to a Stroke.
- Heart Failure-Heart failure occurs when certain conditions like the ones I just mentioned above leave the heart too weak, stiff or tired to pump blood orderly.
- Cardiac Arrest– A heart may attain the situation of a cardiac arrest by almost every known heart complication including the ones above, where the heart stops beating. However, this condition can be reversed by performing a CPR and using a Defibrillator within a few minutes of lost pulse.
Lifestyle Factors Affecting Heart-health
There are certain lifestyle orders/disorders that contribute towards a heart disease like:
- Lack Of Physical Activities– A sedentary lifestyle not only repudiates the efficiency of heart muscles and activity but may also lead to various other factors that would only add up to the situation, for eg. Stress, fat gain and low O2 levels in the body.
- Poor Or Toxic Diet– Indulging in a diet high in trans fats, sugar, sodium and unchecked saturated fats, too much of alcohol consumption and smoking are the agents of heart diseases.
- Diabetes– According to some researches, the chances of developing heart diseases are higher (almost twice) in people who have Diabetes (especially middle aged people with Type II Diabetes) than in people who do not, which is why I decided to mention it.
Diet and Exercise
Okay! My intention in writing this article is definitely not to scare you and get you to jump out of your bed and exercise. But it’s undeniable that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways (and practical) to prevent heart disease and its consequences like a heart attack and even a stroke. All you have to do is indulge yourself into any physical activity of your choice for at least 3-4 days a week, 30-40 minutes per session and make more of the edible choices which are beneficial for you than useless.
How should one exercise and what should one eat to maintain a good Heart-health? No matter what the reason for exercising be, I would always suggest a good combination of Aerobic Exercises (cardio) and Resistance/ Strength training. Since we are focusing on the heart, I wouldn’t prefer to skip a cardio session. But being a Strength& Conditioning Coach and knowing the pros and cons of no strength training, it has always been on my priority list for any condition. However, we have multiple ways to work on both these days. The best example for such is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). In order to avoid confusion or any adverse effects in the process, an expert supervision is always recommended before taking up physical activity.
Besides avoiding the agents of heart diseases as mentioned in the previous part, foods that you should be focusing on are foods containing- healthy fats such as nuts/ seeds/ fish/ avocados, dietary fiber such as fruits/ vegetables/ whole grains/ lentils & pulses and lean proteins such as fat free meats and egg whites. A combination of good diet preferences, healthy lifestyle habits and proper exercise not only targets the weight factors but also nurtures your hormones only to work further in the favour of one’s heart condition.
The writer is a certified fitness expert. Having worked with brands like Talwalkers and Golds Gym, at present he is the Strength and Conditioning Coach & Nutrition Consultant of Guwahati City Football Club.