Keep the scoreboard of life ticking
By Deepshikha Punj
23rd September 2012 12:00 AM
When Aparna Varma, a 27-year-old Bangalorean engineer, saw her mother suffer from a heart attack, she was taken aback given how her mother lived a healthy lifestyle at home. “We avoided oily and junk foods, and were mostly put on the green diet. So I don’t know how this could happen to her,” says Varma. Her story, however, is not a unique one.
According to statistics by the World Heart Federation, 1.73 crore people die due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and one crore children are born with congenital heart defect annually worldwide. Contrary to popular belief that CVD mostly affects affluent male, older population, it can affect all age groups, including women and children. “In India about 30 per cent of deaths are due to CVD and while initially this was a male-centric problem, due to changing lifestyles it has taken over the female population as one of the major causes of deaths in the country. Also, the metropolitan lifestyle has thrown women into smoking and drinking which not only leads to bad health for them but also their children,” says Dr Amandeep Markan, Consultant Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala.
The report states that heart diseases cause one in three female deaths each year. Dr N N Khanna, Senior Consulting Cardiologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, says, “There are four factors. Women are socially neglected, the way the common artery manifests in women is different and so they may not have common symptoms such as heart ache or rushed pain on the left arm but excessive perspiration, lethargy and sweat. Also, chances of their survival after a stroke are less, as they are naturally protected till menopause.”
The World Health Organisation predicts that if the current trend continues, by 2030, almost 2.3 crore people will die from CVD worldwide. “The urban lifestyle leading to problems such as diabetes, hypertension and stress are also responsible for heart diseases in the country. Women also tend not to spend required amount of time with their families. They are in the same stress zone as males,” says Khanna. This has also trickled down to children. Markan says, “Almost one in every 10 school-going kids suffers from obesity leading them to develop heart diseases at an earlier stage.” On this September 29, World Heart Day, the focus is on CVD among women and children. Awareness, say experts, is decreasing and problems are increasing.
However, most incidences of stroke and heart failure can be averted by making healthy eating and right lifestyle choices. Physical exercise including playing an outdoor game, carrying out household chores, using public transport can all help maintain a healthy heart. Markan says, “Diets high in saturated and trans-fat and sugar and salt increases the risk of heart diseases. One need not stop what they are eating but try reducing the portion of less healthy food and increasing the portion size of the healthy food stuff. If you have a sweet tooth, try dates and mangoes as opposed to chocolates.”
Another way to keep off heart diseases is reducing or abstaining from use of tobacco. Also, regular testing is another answer. “Regular check-ups for males at the age 0f 40 and 45 for women can be extremely beneficial,” says Khanna.
On this World Heart Day, let’s promise ourselves a happy and healthy heart.
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