Contributed by – Dr. Snehal Singh
The very thought of heart problems can scare the life out of all of us. But, did you know that our unhealthy living habits are pushing us slowly and steadily towards some really serious health disorders? The incidence of heart problems has increased manifolds in the previous years. Sparing nobody, heart problems has victims from all age groups.
Did you know that around 70% of urban India population is at a risk of heart disorders?
It is really important to know what can be done to keep these problems at bay. Your heart health is to a huge extent in your hand. Thus, taking a step today can ensure that you stay healthy in the long run. Some really effective healthy tips for healthy heart is mentioned below. Read how to take care of your heart.
Healthcare Tips for Heart Patients
People suffering from heart disorders need to take special care of their health. The care taken after a heart attack is part of cardiac rehabilitation. This includes medical treatment, lifestyle changes, diet, exercise routine, regular health check-ups and blood tests. As each case varies, the precise time to begin, duration and heart care instructions depend entirely on the health status of the particular person.
Some common steps that are highly advised for one and all and are effective in heart-care management are:
Heart diseases and particularly heart attacks is closely linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits. So, the first step towards better health is to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Some lifestyle tips for you:
- Quit smoking or having tobacco in any form. Try avoiding second hand smoke as well
- Limit your alcohol intake or avoid it completely if possible
- Sleep well and get proper rest
- Stay active during the day, apart from the regular exercises
- Try staying positive and emotionally motivated
- Stay connected with your loved ones
- Indulge in your hobbies
Dietary Do’s And Don’ts
Food and diet plays a very important in protecting your heart. Some important heart care dietary tips are mentioned below:
- Diet planning – Plan healthy, balanced meals and restrict your salt intake. Include fresh fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Although not advisable, if you have to take canned foods, choose the ones that have low sodium content and are without added sugar. Limit your calorie intake but never skip any meal.
- Food preferences – Choose lean meats, low fat proteins and tofu. Replace refined foods with complex carbs or whole grain foods. Substitute whole milk and milk products with no or low-fat ones. Cut down on sugars and saturated fats, instead choose unsaturated fats like unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Cooking methods – Avoid pickles and foods preserved in salt and sugar. Avoid frying and choose grilling, steaming and baking instead.
- Heart healthy foods – Include fibre in your diet through fruits and veggies, whole grains like oats, bran, brown rice. Take foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, fatty fish and olive oil.
Exercise Or Yoga Regime
Regular exercises always mean better heart health with improved blood circulation and oxygenation. Regular physical activity or exercises for around 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week can help prevent heart problems. However, for heart patients the type and duration of exercises may vary and is best advised by the doctor.
Walks and simple yoga poses are advised for all and can be easily performed daily. You can maintain an exercise routine with walks and yoga for 3 to 5 days in a week. Weight training if permitted can be done 2 to 3 times a week. Yoga and meditation is really helpful in combating the health issues. It is always advisable to talk to your physician before beginning with an exercise regime.
Health Parameters To Monitor
One of the important steps to prevent further cardiac problems is to monitor your health with important parameters. Some of these include:
- Waistline – Along with weight, make sure you measure your waistline. If there is excess fat around the waist, it increases your risk of heart problems. So even if the weight is ideal but if the waistline is more, work out to reduce it. A body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 and waistline of 35 inches or less is needed to prevent heart problems.
- Weight – Weight management is an important part of healthy living, more particularly heart care. So, watch your weight and if you are overweight, try to lose some weight; it can reduce your heart risk to a great extent.
- Blood Pressure – Another important measure of your health is blood pressure. Monitor your blood pressure regularly, take appropriate medicines as advised and follow dietary restrictions.
- Lipid profile – Lipid profile is a simple blood test that can detect cholesterol and triglyceride levels. While medicines help to control these levels, it is necessary for you to monitor them regularly.
- Blood Glucose – Managing diabetes or maintaining blood glucose levels is equally important to reduce the risk of heart problems. So monitor your blood glucose levels with regular blood tests like fasting, postprandial blood sugar and glycated haemoglobin which gives an average reading of 3 months.
Regular Health Check-ups
One of the most important health care tips for heart patients is to have regular health check-ups and follow up with the physician. A cardiac rehab may continue for at least 12 weeks, further which preventive health regime would follow. During this period, proper and regular follow-ups, blood tests and investigations are to be done, in addition to a healthy lifestyle. These may include chest x-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter monitoring, echocardiogram (2D –Echo), stress test or scans.
Blood tests for heart patients usually include routine tests, like:
- Complete blood count (CBC), Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Lipid profile
- Blood glucose tests
- C-reactive protein (CRP) which is a marker for inflammation and predicts heart risk
- Troponin test, which measures certain proteins in blood and helps determine the amount of heart muscle damage that usually occurs after heart attack
- Creatine kinase (CK)
- Creatine kinase-MB (CKMB), Myoglobin too help to detect proteins in muscles but may not be specific only to the heart
- B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and pro BNP and blood tests to detect heart failure
- Newer tests that detect lipoproteins and predict heart risks can be done, if advised
Make sure you take all medicines and perform tests as advised. Know the warning signs like chest tightness, dizziness, shortness of breath or vomiting.
Always keep your emergency medicine and contact details of emergency medical team handy. Take charge of your health now, before it is too late.