Concerns of The Heart
In Singapore, 15 people die every day from cardiovascular disease. It accounts for 29.5% of all deaths in 2013. 1 out of 3 deaths are a result of heart disease or stroke, highlighting that the severity of the problem is not one to be taken lightly.
Cardiovascular disease are diseases related to the heart (cardiac muscle) or blood vessels (vasculature). These diseases are often the result of atheroma.
Atheroma are small fatty lumps, which can be referred to as "plaque", that develop within the inside lining of blood vessels or arteries. It is also known as atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries. They cause the narrowing of the arteries which in turn reduces the blood flow through the artery. Given time, the patches of atheroma can become larger and thicker.
In some cases, a patch of atheroma may develop a tiny crack on the inside surface of the blood vessel. This may trigger a blood clot to form over the patch of atheroma, which may completely block the flow blood to vital organs such as the heart, brain and intestines. The likelihood of suffering a heart attack, stroke and other serious problems then increases tenfold.
Men and women, both are at risk of developing these small fatty lumps. Some risk factors can increase the risk to this problem.
Lifestyle risk factors:
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy diet or consumption of too much salt
- Excess alcohol
Treatable or partly treatable risk factors:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- High fat
- Kidney diseases
It is crucial for us to be aware of these risk factors. Some risk factors are more risky than others. Also, these risk factors interact making you more prone to prevailing health risk. A study by Oxford revealed that men aged 50 who smoked, have high cholesterol and blood pressure, die approximately 10 years earlier than those who do not have these risk factors.
Smoking - Cutting back on smoking can help reduce your chances of developing heart disease. When you smoke, the tobacco gets into the bloodstream from the lungs thereby damaging the blood vessels and other parts of the body. This can potentially lead to a risk of suffering from stroke and other diseases such as lung cancer. Stopping smoking could reduce the risks faced significantly.
Exercise - We can never stress the importance of exercise enough. Those who exercise face a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. To reap the most benefits, one should exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. For those who are overweight, this will help keep their weight in check.
Diet - A healthy diet can control obesity and lower your cholesterol level. Eating oily fish like sardines, salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, etc helps to guard against heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil reduces the build-up of small fatty lumps associated with atheroma. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also advisable as the antioxidants and vitamins found in them can prevent atheroma from building-up. To further aid your dietary needs, you can consider taking supplements like Omega-3, Vitamin D, Niacin, Hawthorn Berries, Coenzyme Q-10 which are beneficial in providing heart support. It would be wise to cut down the intake of salt and alcohol drastically.
High blood pressure - Monitoring your blood pressure/cholesterol levels and blood sugar regularly would keep you aware of your condition and you can work accordingly to solve any necessary problems. If they are kept in the healthy range, it could lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. It is wise to see a healthcare professional to have them checked. Medication could be provided to help lower the unhealthy levels.
A multitude of effective steps can help reduce one's chances of being a victim of this killer disease. You should take proactive steps to make changes to your lifestyle if you have one or more risk factors. Give your heart a new lease of life now!