Understanding the Importance of Heart Health
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Our body functions due to an interplay between all the organs, many of which like the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc., are considered vital. We are all aware that the heart is the only organ in the body that pumps oxygenated blood to all the cells and tissues of the body and purifies it. Well, the fact that we have just one heart and without blood, we cannot survive tells us how vital and critical our heart is for our mere existence. Despite this, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in India today. A study in 2016 stated that around 54.5 million people in India had one or more cardiovascular conditions.
Let’s get a bit deeper to understand the importance of heart health!
What is a Normal or Healthy Heart Condition?
To live a long, healthy, and active life, you must take care of your heart. Here are some parameters that say your heart is healthy:
One of the first signs that your heart is healthy is a normal heart rate. In ideal conditions, your heart rate should lie between 60 to 100 beats per minute, though 50 to 70 beats per minute are preferred by many physicians. In people who train regularly, the heart rate may be as low as 40 beats per minute.
Your heart does not function alone. The blood vessels and their health also impact the way your heart functions. For a healthy heart, your blood pressure must be below 120/80 mm Hg. Increased blood pressure increases the effort that your heart needs to pump blood to different parts of the body. This can damage your heart walls.
For a healthy heart, your blood cholesterol levels must be within normal limits. Excessive LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) can block your blood vessels, and raise your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
If you have a healthy heart, it is able to pump oxygenated blood to all tissues. This oxygen energizes your body. So, warning signs like chronic fatigue indicate a not-so-healthy heart.
Ideally, your heart rate increases during exercise or physical activity but should return to the normal range after a few minutes of rest. This recovery rate of your heart indicates how healthy your heart is!
Common Cardiac Conditions Found in India
Following an unhealthy lifestyle increases your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Common cardiovascular conditions that are prevalent in India include:
Also called myocardial infarction, heart attacks are the leading cause of death due to cardiovascular causes in India. A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen when the blood flow to a part of the heart is obstructed. The most common cause for this is the development of plaque formed from fat, cholesterol, or clots in the blood vessels in the heart.
This cardiovascular condition is characterized by sudden obstruction of blood flow to the heart. There are different kinds of strokes:
Ischaemic strokes: These make up 87% of all strokes and occur when a blood vessel that supplies oxygen to the brain gets blocked.
Haemorrhagic strokes: These strokes can occur due to different causes apart from blockages, such as abnormal growth in the blood vessels.
Also called congestive heart failure, this condition occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood for the body. Cardiac failure is usually characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, etc. when performing routine activities like climbing stairs or walking.
When your heart beats abnormally low or fast or irregularly, it is called cardiac arrhythmia. When the heart beats regularly or is out of rhythm, it is unable to pump enough blood to the body.
Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Keeping your heart healthy is vital but extremely simple. All you need to do is be consistent and regular in your efforts:
Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Avoid saturated and trans fats, and foods rich in cholesterol.
Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes each day or at least 150 minutes every week. Staying active in your daily routine also is important. This includes taking the stairs and walking whenever you can.
Bust the stress using yoga, meditation, and other such practices.
Good quality sleep is vital to keeping your cardiovascular system healthy
Committing to keeping your heart healthy is an essential one. While you understand the importance of heart health and the risks of developing heart ailments, it is important to set up smaller, more achievable heart health goals and work on living a heart-healthy lifestyle.