Invest in your heart health
Thirty-five million beats – that is the number of times our heart beats in a year on an average. Starting to beat at six weeks as a foetus, it continues without stopping till the end of life. A wondrous organ, the heart is celebrated on September 29, on World Heart Day. Cardiovascular disease or CVD is the biggest killer out there, with an estimated 31 per cent of all deaths due to it. That is, approximately 18 million deaths a year due to CVD.
World Heart Day is not a one-day remembrance, but a call to action, a pledge to take care of this precious pump for a lifetime. Every heart day has a theme to reduce and prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD). This year’s theme is “Use heart to beat heart problems”. Use heart means using your heart and mind to understand healthy living. It means to change to a healthy lifestyle and avoid heart irresponsible behaviour.
Annual checkup needed
Risk factors for CVD include hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. A health check up is recommended from the age of 20 to pick up such diseases early. ‘Use heart’ also means to influence people to bring about positive changes by setting an example. As an employer, it means to invest in the heart health of your employees, an annual health check would be a good starting point. Investing in heart health of your workers can be a good, productive investment in the long term. As a government, it means to ban smoking and educating people about avoiding high sugar consumption and avoiding trans fats.
Warning signs of a heart attack can be chest pain, radiating to the arms, shoulder, back or jaw, sweating, nausea, vomiting or loss of consciousness. It can also present as abdominal discomfort, commonly perceived as ‘gas’, and many times treated as such. Any such symptoms need to be discussed with a doctor and investigated. Usual investigations in an acute setting are an ECG, echocardiogram, and cardiac enzymes like troponin levels.
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Protocols involve doing serial ECGs, checking blood pressure and sugar and oxygen saturation. If a heart attack is diagnosed, admission followed by treatment with medicines like aspirin and clot-dissolving agents like thrombolytics(clot busters) or by interventional procedures like coronary angiogram and primary angioplasty.
During Covid times
Providing support during this pandemic is of paramount importance. In times of emergency, like chest pain, it is essential to go to the hospital and get a checkup. Covid should not delay care in such situations. Regular checkups can be done online too. Some essential blood tests like INR . in patients with heart valve replacement need to be done at the right intervals. All medicines advised by your doctor should be taken regularly, and should modified or stopped them only after consultation.
By Dr Harsha Jeevan