Use heart for every heart

Use heart for every heart — the theme is about celebrating and connecting like-minded people on the occasion of World Heart Day this year. It created a sense of commitment around the common cause of heart health, and it is a concept that encapsulates the values of World Heart Day.

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

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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Heart Day informs people around the globe that cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, is the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 18.6 million lives each year, and highlights the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control CVD. It aims to drive action to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.

In the time of COVID-19, CVD patients faced a double-edged threat. They are more at risk of developing severe forms of the virus and may also be afraid to seek ongoing care for their hearts.

Cardiovascular diseases include blood clots, cardiomyopathies, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, stroke etc. The risk factors leading to cardiovascular diseases include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, alcohol intake, bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.

Use heart to listen to your heart. If you have an underlying health condition, such as heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, do not let COVID-19 stop you from attending your regular check-ups.

This year, World Heart Day has decided to bring to mind how one can take care of the heart with one’s own heart:

Know your heart: Knowing one’s heart is essential and 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 toward ensuring that the heart is fueled 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 follows, 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 prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat to prevent the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

• Decrease the salt in your diet. A lower sodium level — 1,500 mg daily — 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 can help control high blood pressure, lower your risk of related health problems, and keep the heart healthy.

• Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and manage stress, which reduces 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 of moderate and vigorous activity.

• Stop alcohol intake.

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

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

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.
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