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New Year 2024: Eight resolutions to keep your heart healthy
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New Year 2024: Eight resolutions to keep your heart healthy

Mindful eating combined with more physical activity and a healthy work life balance should keep your heart healthy, say experts 

 

The more sedentary a person is, the higher the risk of developing a heart disease.

Heart health has emerged as the prime health priority, especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent alleged increase in the number of people dying of heart attacks and cardiac complications. However, cardiologists point out that proper heart care could be ensured through some basic lifestyle and dietary alterations adopted as early in life as possible. They also point out that one should neither delay nor avoid seeking expert help when it comes to heart health.

Dr Abhishek Singh, consultant cardiology, Manipal Hospital Ghaziabad, emphasizes that it is important to look after one’s heart health from a younger age.  He points out that heart diseases are affecting people at a much earlier age itself and even people as young as 30 years of age are already at a risk of coronary artery disease, due to various factors including unhealthy lifestyle.

Cardiac health is closely associated with conditions like diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis that adversely affect your blood vessels and  compromise blood circulation to the heart and rest of the organs in the body.

“For this, one should mainly avoid stress of any kind on the blood vessels, including smoking, unhealthy diet, blood pressure, and being sedentary,” says Dr Pradeep G Nayar, interventional cardiologist, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai.

Cardiac-friendly new year resolutions for 2024

1. Eat at home and avoid unhealthy fats and refined carbs

Learning some basic cooking might not be a bad idea. Eating home cooked food prepared with known ingredients chosen by you rather than all the unhealthy saturated fats and refined carbohydrates is one of the best ways to maintain heart health. Dr Singh explains that it is important that one should keep a check of what they eat and shun oily and saturated foods.

“One should have home cooked food as much as possible. This is because they would know what ingredients and mediums are used,” says Dr Singh. A refined carbohydrate-dense diet is also bad for your heart as it could spike your blood glucose, which results in a domino effect leading to higher blood pressure and inflammation in your blood vessels adversely affecting your blood circulation.

2. Have a protein and fiber-rich diet

Samreen Sharieff, a Bengaluru-based nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, explains that one should have a balanced meal with fiber-rich whole grains and green leafy vegetables, along with lean meat or pulses and legumes that are rich in proteins. Adding fiber and protein rich food will not only keep your blood glucose under control, it will also be helpful for increasing your good cholesterol (HDL) levels and keeping a check on bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

3. Move more this year

“The more sedentary a person is, the higher the risk of developing a heart disease,” says Sharieff.  One of the best heart healthy new year resolutions would be to be physically active.

“Everyone should be physically active. A heavy workout or muscle building is not necessary, but at least some walking, cycling, swimming, etc could be done whenever one gets time,” says Dr Singh. Dr Nayar suggests that one can do 30-40 minutes of walking a day for at least five days a week.

Experts add that one must keep in mind that they should not exercise for two hours after a heavy meal.

4. Stay relaxed, avoid stress

“Avoid stress because of work or personal reasons as well,” says Dr Nayar. He adds that one can practice de-stressing activities, as high stress levels will result in problems such as anxiety and high blood pressure, which will affect the heart and body. Pursuing some simple hobbies, spending more time with family, etc. are good ways to de-stress, say experts.

“As doctors, we have started noticing that a lot of young people are suffering heart attacks, even if they are non-smokers, non-alcoholics and have a physically fit lifestyle,” adds Dr Singh. He says that one of the major factors for this is stress. So, it is important to find ways to manage it through meditation, yoga, or therapy.

5. Snooze well for cardiac wellness

Experts explain that for adults, at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is essential. “Sleeping for a minimal amount of time leads to the secretion of many abnormal hormones or adrenaline rushes, which can lead to high blood pressure, excessive mental stress, a high risk of heart attack, and brain stroke,” says Dr Singh. Interrupted sleep multiple times a day and daytime sleeping is not advisable, and the best time is to sleep at night, add experts. It will also help to reduce stress and also the body will be able to finetune its metabolism to regulate your blood pressure and blood glucose levels

6. Quit smoking and drink responsibly

“When it comes to alcohol, moderation is the key,” says Dr Singh. Moderate drinking should also be occasional, say experts.

Smoking should completely be avoided. Dr Singh adds that there is no safe limit for smoking, so even one is not recommended. It should be completely stopped with the help of nicotine gums, patches, etc, rather than gradually doing so. Vascular inflammation caused due to smoking is responsible for the majority of plaque formations in your coronary arteries that trigger heart attack.

7. Stay away from processed food

There is a rise in the consumption of processed and refined foods. “Our instant go to snack would be a cookie or a milkshake,” says Sharieff.

Processed foods contain lots of chemicals and, at times, preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. “It is not easy for anyone to make a drastic change, but one step at a time, we can stop these habits,” adds Sharieff. This is a much needed heart healthy resolution.

8. Go for regular health checkups

Regular monitoring of health parameters is important, so always get an annual checkup done, especially if you are above the age of forty. One heart healthy resolution would be to seek your doctor’s opinion on the frequency of these check-ups, if you are already diagnosed with conditions like high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. “One should get their parameters checked regularly, especially if they already have a condition like diabetes or blood pressure, and keep it within the normal range to avoid further complications,” says Dr Nayar.

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