In recent times, there has been too much hue and cry regarding heart diseases as we are seeing people of young ages dying from cardiovascular diseases (CVD). We are worried about the COVID-19 pandemic but there is an epidemic of CVD going on unnoticed.
Do you take care of your heart the same way you do now to avoid getting affected by coronavirus?
Coronary heart disease, according to WHO, is Bangladesh's second leading cause of death with 15.23 per cent of the total number. Several studies have revealed an increase in it.
Sedentary lifestyles and drastic urbanisation are core causes of this exponential progression of heart diseases in Bangladesh.
Although certain risk factors are unchangeable, you can change your lifestyle to ensure having a good heart. The best cure that patients don't use is basically their lifestyle intervention.
Keeping a balanced meal that is minimal in salt, sugar, carbohydrate, and cholesterol is extremely important for the health of the heart. Most people in Bangladesh love red meat (mutton, beef), fatty dairy products, and spicy-oily foods containing saturated fat (harmful fat) which are not ideal choices for the heart.
However, the change can be gradual, like eating low-fat meat rather than red meat, replacing olives or sunflower oil with mustard or soybean oil, drinking water instead of sodas and sweetened drinks, and choosing organic and balanced meals over junk and processed foods.
Also, eating fruits, colourful vegetables, and grains should be prioritised. Studies show that the intake of fruit and vegetables (3 to 5 times or more) every day is associated with a 17 per cent decline in CVD.
Blood pressure, body weight, as well as sugar and cholesterol levels in blood - you need to control these if you want to keep your heart healthy. And they may go out of control due to your aging, mental stress, poor diet, and luxury lifestyle.
"Ways to prevent these diseases, like enhanced activity or a limited intake of calories, should be maintained alongside regularly monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol," suggested Dr Siba Pada Roy, Associate Professor and Associate Consultant, Cardiac Anaesthesiology, Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital and Research Institute.
Dr Siba had researched cardio-vascular disease risk factors over 350 patients for six months, and the study revealed that hypertension (81.6 per cent) is the number one, and diabetes is the second-most risk factor (69.2 per cent).
"Physical activity offers relaxation and contraction of the muscles, which, in turn, flows more blood throughout the body. This leads to a more oxygenated blood to nourish the cells of cardiac muscle," said Dr S M Fuad Hasan, Assistant Registrar at Shaheed Khalek Ibrahim General Hospital, Wari, Dhaka.
Being physically active is a must to keep your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and weight under control to prevent CVD risk, he said.
And for this, Dr Hasan suggested jogging, walking, doing some freehand exercises, dancing, swimming, cycling, or adopting some habits like taking stairs instead of the lift or doing household chores regularly.
The amount of workout time may vary from man to man as it totally depends on one's lifestyle like how much calories one ingests and how much one needs to burn calories every day, according to him.
According to the Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 2010, Bangladesh is ranked among the top 10 countries, with nearly two-thirds of the total global smoker population.
Even cardiologists admit that half of all cardiac attacks can be avoided if people give up smoking. Self-encouragement or motivation with support from family and friends are needed to quit smoking.
Be it a healthy diet, being more active, keeping blood pressure or sugar under control, or quitting smoking -- heart health is crucial and one should be extremely cautious about it.
The writer is a third-year pharmacy student at Brac University.