Heart attacks, cardiac arrests are quite common. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death. There are a number of Indians suffering from heart diseases, due to the drastic change in lifestyle and eating habits. But the good news, however, is that 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable. A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and not using tobacco products are the keys to prevention. But while we learn how to take care of our heart, we must also pay attention to how we are risking our heart health.
The recent death of actor Mandira Bedi’s husband Raj Kaushal due to sudden cardiac arrest has shocked not just the film and television industry, but the common man as well. Sudden cardiac death occurs most frequently in adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s and affects men twice as often as it does women.
Facts About Heart Ailments Every Indian Should Know
- A study in The Lancet shows that heart ailments caused more than 2.1 million deaths in India in 2015 at all ages or more than a quarter of all deaths.
- At ages 30-69 years, of 1.3 million cardiovascular deaths, 0.9 million (68.4%) were caused by coronary heart disease and 0.4 million (28.0%) by stroke.
- Adults born after the 1970s are much more vulnerable to such deaths than those born earlier.
- In 2016, the estimated prevalence of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) in India was estimated to be 54.5 million.
- One in 4 deaths in India is now because of CVDs with ischemic heart disease and stroke responsible for >80% of this burden.
While statistics help shine a light on the gravity of the situation, you should be aware of all the signs your body showcases that need immediate attention. To better understand cardiovascular diseases and the risk factors involved, TC46 connected with Cardiac Surgeon Dr Vivek Mahajan, Fortis Hospital Mumbai. Here he shares a few risk factors and lifestyle tips one needs to pay attention to, post 40.
10 Ways You Are Putting Your Heart At Risk
As we reach our 40’s our heart health becomes more important. Here are 10 heart risks you need to pay attention to.
1. Not Taking Vacation Time
Take some time off. Maybe that dream destination is not possible right now but you could have a weekend getaway. Studies show that those who do not use their vacation days or go out, are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.
2. Eating A Lot Of Red Meat
It is found that those who eat excess red meat had triple the amount of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a dietary byproduct that contributes to heart disease. Hence it is suggested to have a balanced diet with proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
3. Having Family History For Heart Attacks
If you have a family history of heart disease, those are signs that you need to start caring for your own heart health. If your parents have had a major event before the age of 55 or 65, the chances of experiencing heart failure or cardiovascular disease at some point in your life are significantly higher.
4. Anger Issues
Anger can be a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and death from a heart-related issue. Studies have found that the risk of combined coronary heart disease was twice as great for those with high anger levels.
5. Unhealthy Habits
Anything in excess is bad, drinking, smoking, unhealthy diets- processed food. Unhealthy habits increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and blood pressure which increases the risk for different heart diseases.
Insomnia is just as bad for your heart as it is disruptive to your schedule. People with insomnia have an increased risk of getting a heart attack or a stroke. The difficulty in maintaining your sleep cycle is associated with a risk of cardiovascular disease
7. Beginning Menopause
The risk of heart disease increases for both men and women as they age, but certain risk factors and symptoms of cardiovascular disease spike at the onset of menopause in women. For many women, perimenopause can begin just after 40, when estrogen levels begin fluctuating. At times like such, women must consult with their doctor.
Setting health goals and following diets is good if consulted with a nutritionist or doctor. But it is concerning when there is drastic weight loss or fluctuations with weight. A person’s BMI is related to his/her heart health. Hence, dieting without any consultation can be harmful.
9. Sickness & Medications
With the pandemic going on, pay attention to your health. Treat every little flu with care. Flu, migraines, and excess steroids can affect your heart health. Even diabetes, hypertension, obesity and blood pressure can affect a person’s heart health.
10. Mental Illness
If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, then you should seek out professional help—not just for the sake of your mental health, but for your heart health as well. Even chronic stress becomes an increasingly serious heart risk factor as you age. They all can increase your risk of getting cardiovascular disease.
Learn From The Expert
1. Most common heart attack symptoms:
There are no specific differences in symptoms for the different genders and age groups. They are more or less the same. But there are a number of misguided symptoms that can lead a person to think that he/she/they are not having a heart attack.
The most common symptom is:
- Chest heaviness: Usually patients would use the word ‘chest pain’, but in cases of heart attack, the right term is chest heaviness, a congested or constricted feeling in the chest, or even a choking sensation in the neck
- Burning or choking in the mid-chest or stomach
- Low energy, sweating or vomiting
- Weakness, fainting spells without any chest heaviness are also common symptoms, mostly for diabetic patients
The symptoms differ from person to person but in cases of heart attack, these are not mild symptoms. They are of much greater and serious pain, unlike your usual body pain. If the patient notices any of these symptoms and knows it is much greater than usual, they are advised to seek medical treatment.
2. Common causes of cardiac arrest in people over 40
- Blockage in the coronary artery: In the common coronary artery disease, there can be a choking sensation caused by the cholesterol block, which can lead to an obstruction in the blood flow to the heart muscle. This can cause an electrical disturbance called arrhythmia which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest
- Heart failure: Mostly cause due to blockage or weakness of the heart
- Genetic disorders
- COVID 19: Here the heart muscle can get involved and can cause a cardiac arrest
3. Lifestyle choices and habits affect heart health for people over 40
Many habits and lifestyle choices can increase or affect a person’s heart health. Some of them include:
- Exercising: The lack of the habit can increase the risk of any heart disorders
- Smoking: Any amount of tobacco or smoking can increase the risk of cardiac arrests
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Sitting for a prolonged period of time: Sitting for more than 30 mins in a place can increase the risk of heart attacks
- Consumption of processed sugar like soda, bakery goods
- Increase in proteins, vitamins and minerals and cut down on sugar
- Lack of sleep: Individuals should have at least 7-8 hours of sleep
- Having uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol
4. Mental health issues, stress and work pressure can impact a heart attack
Mental health can positively or negatively impact your physical health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. A stressful situation can cause a chain reaction. Chronic stress is when stress is constant and your body is in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
5. Signs of heart issues the body showcases post 40
- Signs like breathlessness or palpitations while daily walking or exercising can be an indication for serious heart diseases
- Having diabetes, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, being obese, or snoring can be some existing signs that the individual could have a risk of heart disease or heart attack
- Eating a lot of processed sugar can not only increase the risk for heart disease but also increase the risk of diabetes and obesity
- Being a drinker and smoker: More than 2-3 drinks a day for men, and 1 drink a day for women
6. Tips for better heart health for those in their 40s
- Exercise for at least 30 mins, for 5 days of the week. Include aerobic exercises like walking or cycling for 5 km.
- You can also try muscle training or weight training.
- Avoid smoking completely, and reduce your alcohol intake.
- Keep blood pressure under control. Have your BP checked regularly and take the required medications.
- Reduce salt intake by 10% or 20%.
- Avoid canned food and processed food.
- Cut down on your oil intake. Use non-tropical vegetable oils. Sunflower, rice bran, groundnut, olive oil or cold-pressed oil are good but remember to rotate your oil consumption.
- Consume only low-fat dairy products
- Focus on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables rather than processed foods like bakery goodies.
- Your diet must be a high protein diet with 60% of proteins, 20% – 30% of carbohydrates, 10% – 15% of fats.