Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Westernization in India, made its presence felt a long time ago. However, we have begun facing the consequences only recently. Suddenly, we have realized that there is an increase in deaths due to cardiac diseases and yet we have been too ignorant to Implement proper dietary practices.

We take you on a journey that discusses the progress of that around our blood vessels, which sooner or later triggers ischemic heart diseases. This fat gets accumulated in the vessels due to faulty dietary practices like consumption of fatty, tried and sugar-dense foods.

Understanding Atherosclersis

Arteriosclerosis is the thickening and hardening of arterial walls. And Atherosclerosis which is a specific form of arteriosclerosis, primarily affects the intima of large and medium-sized muscular arteries. It is characterized by the presence of fibro-fatty plaques or atheromas. The term ‘atherosclerosis’ is derived from the Greek word athero (meaning porridge like) referring to the soft lipid-rich material in the centre of atheroma and sclerosis (scarring) referring to the connective tissue in the plaques.

Risk Factors For Atherosclerosis

Age, race, family history and genetics are major constitutional risk factors towards the development of atherosclerosis and an abnormal lipid profile, diabetes. high blood pressure etc. are all acquired risk factors for fat build up in our arteries. The progression of tat around our arteries can be rapid with obesity, physical inactivity, stressful lifestyle, hormonal imbalance, certain infections and alcohol consumption.

Factors Leading To A Heart Attack

Lipids are transported via fractions called lipoproteins. The low density lipoprotein (LDL) more commonly known bad cholesterol, is responsible for the initiation and progression of fat build-up in the arteries. The serum LDL level should hence be maintained at less than 100mg/ dl.

The first step is the presence of high amounts of LDL in the walls of the arteries where it gets subjected to oxidation to form highly damaging oxidized LDL particles which are highly atherogenic. Oxidized LDL further initiates release of inflammatory substances which accumulate and convert into lipid laden foam cells. These cells are the hallmark of atherosclerosis.

More and more inflammatory markers are released to cause the maturation of foamy cells into a fibrous plaque. This mature plaque is big enough to cause the obstruction of blood How. A sudden rise in pulse rate and blood pressure due to varied reasons can trigger this plaque to rupture and become a dot that completely halts all blood flow resulting in what is clinically called myocardial infarction’ or heart attack.

The fat build-up begins at birth but the rate of progression ¡s too slow to result in any harm. However, an improper lifestyle during childhood and adolescence would culminate into adult obesity and metabolic syndrome which hastens atherosclerosis and increases the risk for heart diseases.

We owe this to ourselves, our body and our soul. We owe this to our near and dear ones. Let us take note of the precautions and appropriate dietary measures for a healthier today and a happier tomorrow.

The progression of fat around our arteries can be rapid with obesity, physical inactivity, stressful lifestyle, hormonal imbalance, certain infections and alcohol consumption

Guidelines To Reduce Fat Build-up In The Arteries

  • Avoid fried, fat-filled, sugar-dense foods to prevent further rise in blood lipids.
  • Use not more than 20 grams of fat per day. Restrict saturated fat richly present in butter, ghee, animal products etc. to not more than five-seven grams.
  • Consume omega 3 fatty acids present in walnuts, flax seeds, fish oils, most fishes etc.
  • Restrict red meat and beef and include more chicken and fish in the diet.
  • For vegetarians, include high protein sources such as pulses, sprouts, thick dais, milk and milk products, tofu etc.
  • Try to eat smaller portions every two-three hours to prevent indulging in heavy meals.
  • Restrict eating outside to not more than twice a month.
  • Consume complex carbohydrates such as jowar, bajra, ragi, maize, whole wheat etc. and avoid consumption of refined flours and most processed foods.
  • Include yellow orange coloured fruits and vegetables which are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A and nuts and oilseeds rich in vitamin E respectively that have antioxidant properties and will hence scavenge the oxidized particles in the arteries.
  • Cut down on smoking, alcohol consumption and use of tobacco as all these trigger plaque to rupture and cause an attack.
  • Indulge in relaxing activities such as yoga to help de-stress and improve functions of the cardiovascular and respiratory system.
  • Consult with a physician and indulge in a mild to moderate form of aerobic activities such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, and aerobics etc. for 30 minutes four-five times a week.

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