The English language beats me even today. “Laugh” is pronounced “laf” and “nation” is pronounced “náysh’n”. Something I could deal with if it was just a question of twisting your tongue. Oh no, just when we are getting comfortable with our silent letters, the question of context steps in and what better example than one of our favourite words ‘heart’.
The heart has much more to it than any other organ of the human body. The heart has character and a personality. The dictionary meanings for the word “heart” are motion, core, sentiment, mood temperament, mind, soul, nature, character, compassion, affection, spirit, disposition and beloved. The meaning varies with every sentence:
It doesn’t stop here. We have strong hearted, the weak hearted, the good hearted, the heavy hearted, the lightened heart, the broken heart, and the brave heart. When we think of the importance literature has given this single organ, it does seem that earlier the generations knew something we are just coming to realize. The heart is the life line for any human being.
With the power of being Numero Uno comes vulnerability! Numero Uno’s are normally subject to attacks and so is the heart. Myocardial Infarction (MI) otherwise known as heart attack and other cardiovascular related diseases are today common ailments that strike humans. Incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in India is estimated to reach about 60 million in 2015. Today MI and CVD have the largest share amongst non-communicable diseases in India and prevalence rates amongst the urban population and young adults are likely to increase. The best way to fight any enemy is to understand them well, so let’s examine the most common causes of MI and CVD.
Know Your Enemy
Atherosclerosis is a gradual process, where cholesterol deposits build up on the arterial walls and narrow the inner channel of the artery making it difficult to deliver the required quantity of blood. This reduction in the flow of blood is said to cause MI and CVD. Smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes accelerate the condition.
Smoking cigarettes also poses a great risk. Nicotine is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease associated with smoking. Smoking causes atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and reduction in the flow of oxygen. Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the fatty deposits in the blood leading to atherosclerosis; which in turn raises blood pressure and the hence the risk of coronary heart disease.
Diet, physical inactivity, and obesity are three other common causes of cardiovascular disease. Lack of exercise reduces fitness of the heart and increases the risk of MI and CVD. A person who is obese is more likely to get high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, again increasing the risk of heart disease.
Prevention and Action
Knowing the common causes of heart attacks, what signs should we be watching out for? Sudden discomfiture; pain; pressure in the center of the chest that lasts for a couple of minutes; pain in one or both arms, neck, shoulder or jaw with or without the discomfiture in chest; shortness of breath with or without discomfiture of chest; lightheadedness and breaking out in a cold sweat are some symptoms that should not be ignored.
If you experience any of the warning signs don’t panic. Stay calm. Call the SOS number that you have stored in your mobile phone. If you do not have one, create one now. Call for an ambulance. Do not drive. Else get someone close by to drive you to the nearest hospital. The immediate treatment you may receive at the hospital if the heart attack is confirmed are clot dissolving (thrombolytic) medications and or a coronary angioplasty.
Preventive measures that we can adopt, as part of our daily lifestyle, to reduce the risk of MI and CVD focus on food and fitness. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, skipping and rowing are commonly recommended. Do consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise regime. A balanced diet with vegetables and fruit, whole grains, low calorie and low fat content will also help a lot, along with no smoking and moderate alcohol consumption.
About the Author:
Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.
Photo Credit: Image 1
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