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Matters Of The Heart

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Do you do enough to keep your heart happy and healthy? Well, you should, especially now with World Heart Day, which is celebrated today! Sara Shah & Yamini Walia tell you more about the day and what you can do to keep your heart healthy

In an age where obesity and other lifestyle diseases are thriving, it’s not surprising to see people suffering from heart problems at a young age. A decade or so ago, old age was the main cause of heart problems. Today however. unhealthy lifestyles, bad food choices, nutrient deficiencies and hereditary factors have all come together to make the disease more common. On the occasion of World Heart Day, we’re telling you how you can keep your heart healthy and also bring you some facts about this day.

What is World Heart Day?
World Heart Day originated in the year 2000, with the aim to educate people around the globe about heart health, heart problems and the fact that heart problems and heart diseases are some of the leading causes of death around the world. Dr. Manohar Sakhare, interventional cardiologist at the Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune, tells us that India sees some of the highest rates of heart fatalities. He explains, “Heart day is celebrated worldwide to generate awareness about heart diseases. Young people are falling prey to heart diseases every day. They need to be educated about the risks and preventive measures, in order to help them adopt a healthier lifestyle, and learn about the importance of approaching cardiologists if they observe major symptoms.” Every year, this day is celebrated with a different theme and this year, it is creating heart-healthy environments. It places emphasis on the places we live and work in, which directly affects our heart health. While the day calls for several activities, conferences and initiatives globally, individuals are welcome to celebrate the day by organising their own personal initiatives to promote a healthier heart.

Lounging on the couch with a packet of wafers and other junk food may sound tempting, but it really isn’t healthy for your heart. Neither is skipping your workout or smoking, so add that to the list too. As you grow older, you need to keep your body and your heart in tip-top condition. Here are a few tips.

Get off your couch
And get moving! Even 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five days of the week is enough to reduce the risk of heart diseases, if not prevent them completely. You don’t have to go out, run or slog off at a gym for that (although those activities ensure great results!). Do your household chores or spend the day playing with your children. You don’t have to run a marathon for a session of much-needed cardio. Even a brisk walk to the grocery store serves as a good cardio exercise.

Eat healthy
This one is a no-brainer. Yes, it may seem worth it to chomp down that entire cheese pizza, but the satisfaction is momentary. Do you know what isn’t fun? Having your heart race and gasp for air as you’re climbing up a flight of stairs. Making healthy food choices not only does wonders for your heart, but also contributes directly to your health. Control your portions and only eat food that is good for your body. Of course, a pizza wouldn’t hurt every now and then, but make sure you get the better of your cravings on most days!

Trash that tobacco
Smoking has never been cool and it doesn’t make you stand out. While it isn’t easy to quit smoking right away, we suggest you do some research and pick from the various strategies that can help cut down on your tobacco consumption.

Keep a check
Even if you make the healthiest lifestyle choices, it’s vital that you get checked every few months. Get your heart rate, blood pressure, BMI, weight and your cholesterol and glucose levels checked regularly.

The walking challenge
Wonder what we’re talking about? The 8-Week Walking Challenge, initiated by the World Heart Federation, in association with international healthcare organisation Buppa, aims to encourage people to increase their physical activity as a sustained lifestyle change, and not only as a one-off event. The challenge aims to:

  • Encourage people to perform 150 minutes of physical activity every week for a duration of at least two months.
  • Support people who enjoy walking as part of a group (virtual or real).
  • Create a movement for movement that will result in sustained behaviour change by allowing people to measure how much they walk.
  • Demonstrate positive changes to heart health by increasing physical activity levels.

On World Heart Day, we’ve put together a few heart facts that will surprise you!

  • 17.3 million people around the world die from heart disease or stroke every year. This accounts for 31% of all deaths.
  • Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the heart was the source of intelligence and the main function of the brain was to cool our blood.
  • Every day, your heart creates enough energy to drive a medium-size truck for 20 miles!
  • The sound of heartbeats is made by the four valves of your heart as they open and close.
  •  On an average, a woman’s heart beats 10% faster than a man’s.
  • The heart of an unborn baby starts beating as soon as four weeks after its conception.
  • The heart of a blue whale weighs about 680 kgs.
  • The words heart and blood can be found in every play written by Shakespeare.
  • Blood enters the heart through its atriums and leaves through the ventricles. Atrium is Latin for entrance hall, while ventriculus means little belly.
  • A hummingbird’s heart beats about 20 times in a second. A blue whale’s heart beats between four and eight times in a minute.

International Initiatives
Several organisations around the world made an effort to do something innovative on World Heart Day last year. We tell you about a few.

AI Kindi Specialised Hospital (Bahrain)
AI Kindia Specialised Hospital collaborated with St. Christopher’s School in Bahrain to celebrate World Heart Day. Students and staff took part in sports activities. They measured the children’s body mass index, blood pressure and blood sugar level and gave them information to help them understand what good health is. The staff doctors and nurses were present throughout the day to encourage children to be responsible for looking after their hearts through a healthy diet, being physically active and not smoking.

Colombian Heart Foundation
The Colombian Heart Foundation initiated a number of activities on World Heart Day. In Medellin, a Circuit Family for Responsible Hearts took place to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases and on the importance of taking responsibility to keep your heart healthy. An outreach programme was put in place and healthy organisation certificates were delivered to 25 companies across Bogota, Cali, Bucaramanga, Neiva, Villavicencio, Medellín and Pasto.

Singapore Heart Foundation
The Singapore Heart Foundation organised two pre-buzz events to prepare for World Heart Day, which included a walk and family carnival alongside Edwards Lifesciences, to engage and educate employees and their families about the importance of exercising. Attendees took part in a 30 minute walk as well as in other fun activities such as carnival games, health screening, team bonding games, face painting and balloon sculpting. The foundation also collaborated with two primary schools to conduct a blood pressure screening session. Last year, they celebrated World Heart Day by organising public health screening, heart-health related exhibitions, CPR/ AED courses, heart-health talks, a salad making competition and workouts, in order to increase public awareness.

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