World Heart Day: Understanding the Importance of Heart Health
The past 18 months have taught the world the importance of wellness, healthcare workers, and the true meaning of ‘health is wealth.’ However, while we are struggling to control an infectious disease like COVID-19, it is vital that we also address others like cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which are said to be the leading cause of death in the world.
CVDs result in nearly 18.6 million deaths a year. An estimated 17.9 million people died of cardiovascular diseases in 2019. Of these, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke. Three-fourths of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
There are over 520 million people in the world today living in fear of COVID-19. Keeping in mind the pandemic we live through, there is an urgent need to provide proper care to people suffering from heart conditions. So, this year’s theme for World Heart Day observed on 29th September is “Use Heart to Connect.” World Heart Federation wishes to encourage people to harness the power of digital health and telehealth to create awareness about cardiovascular diseases, their prevention, and effective management.
World Heart Day is celebrated every 29th September to create and spread awareness about heart conditions and CVDs. The three critical pillars of World Heart Day 2021 are:
Attempts must be made to create equitable access to healthcare for patients with cardiovascular diseases. Using technology and digital tools can empower people to prevent, diagnose, and manage heart-related conditions.
An effective way to manage cardiovascular diseases is to prevent them. The best ways to do so are eating a heart-healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and getting lots of physical activity. With lots of advanced technologies like health trackers, wearables, phone apps, etc., it is straightforward to track your heart health and prevent any conditions. However, despite the ongoing pandemic, people with CVDs must still get regular checkups and routine investigations.
People with CVDs are at high risk for COVID-19 and have been advised against stepping out in public gatherings. However, with good community support, people can find timely and appropriate care.
An important factor that contributes to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases is maintaining healthy blood pressure. Let us understand more about this ahead.
Importance of Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is characterized by a rise in blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg. Hypertension is called a ‘silent killer’ as most people who have the condition show symptoms in the early stages. However, undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension can cause cardiovascular complications such as:
Stroke and Heart Attack:
77% of people who suffer their first stroke do so due to their history of high blood pressure. This happens because hypertension narrows your blood vessels, and brain cells do not receive adequate oxygen, leading to stroke or heart attack.
Chronically high blood pressure can weaken your blood vessels and cause them to bulge in certain areas. When these bulges rupture, it results in a life-threatening complication. An aneurysm can occur anywhere in the body.
When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder to pump blood. This results in the thickening of the walls of the heart chamber. A thickened wall cannot pump enough blood, leading to heart failure.
High blood pressure can damage the narrow and delicate blood vessels that filter urine in the kidneys, resulting in slow kidney damage. Less than usual filtration in the kidneys requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
the blood vessels in your eyes are delicate. Chronic, uncontrolled hypertension can damage these blood vessels, resulting in loss of vision.
Uncontrolled hypertension can affect your ability to think, memorize, remember and think.
Management of Hypertension for a Healthy Heart
Maintaining normal blood pressure levels is vital for a healthy heart. Here are some practical hypertension management tips that can help prevent cardiovascular diseases and keep your heart healthy:
Maintain a Healthy Weight:
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for hypertension and heart diseases. To keep your heart healthy, you must maintain a healthy weight and optimum BMI.
Follow a Dash Diet:
Following the DASH diet involves consuming fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, low sodium, low saturated, and total fat. In addition, it consists of the consumption of calcium and potassium. This diet helps reduce blood pressure levels and favors the healthy functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Get Regular Exercise:
To reduce blood pressure levels and maintain a healthy heart, you must get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every day. This includes brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and others. Aerobic exercise helps reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, stress, diabetes and helps you build stamina.
Quit Smoking and Alcohol Consumption:
Smoking and alcohol consumption is not suitable for you if you are hypertensive. Hypertensive patients who smoke or drink excess alcohol stand a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Effective Stress Management:
A crucial causative factor for hypertension is chronic stress. Uncontrolled stress and anger can result in heart disease in hypertensive individuals.
Lower Your Cholesterol Levels:
High cholesterol levels can put you at a heightened risk for hypertension and, subsequently, cardiovascular disease.
Regular Blood Pressure Monitoring and Doctor Consultations:
An essential step in effectively managing hypertension and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases is regular blood pressure monitoring and doctor consultations. Doing so helps your doctor track your blood pressure numbers and prescribe appropriate medications and lifestyle changes to keep your heart and the vascular system healthy.
This World Heart Day, let’s pledge to create greater awareness about maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system by controlling blood pressure levels. With telehealth and other digital tools at our disposal, everyone can access medical care for a healthy heart. All we need to do is use our hearts to connect!