At a time when heart diseases have become the biggest killer in the world, India is facing the same problem as the country has seen a rapid transition in its disease burden (cardiovascular disease) over the past decades.
According to the Heart Care Foundation of India, 2.4 million Indians die due to heart diseases every year and the numbers continue to rise owing to lifestyle factors such as stress, unhealthy eating habits, lack of sleep, etc.
World Heart Day is an annual event which takes place on 29 September every year and this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed on the need to reduce salt consumption, which is linked to approximately 2.5 million people dying annually from cardiovascular diseases.
However, we can reduce the risk of heart ailments through lifestyle changes and a heart-healthy diet. Physical activity is one part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Here's how you can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease:
Eat a heart-healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help reduce your risk of developing heart diseases. Include beans, other low-fat sources of protein in your diet for a healthy heart.
Fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids and they offer all sorts of complex heart-protective phytonutrients.
While you can limit your intake of certain fats such as - saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, try to avoid trans fat in your diet.
Do not smoke: Cigarette smoking or using tobacco of any kind is no safe for your heart's health. If you are a smoker, quit it immediately as doing so will reap you rewards no matter how long or how much you smoked.
Maintain a healthy weight: Keep an ideal weight as being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Exercise: Daily exercise can cut your risk of deadly heart diseases. It will also help you control your weight and thus reducing your chances of developing other health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes which are all bad for your heart. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.
Cut down on salt: Limit your salt intake as eating a lot of salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Also, limit your intake of processed food as these food items usually contains high salt levels.
Sleep well: Try to sleep at least 7-8 hours every night. Sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, depression and heart attack. To get a proper sleep, one should stick to a regular 'bed time' and 'wake up' time each day.
Reduce stress: Stress is one of the major risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. One should know how to manage stress, otherwise, it can lead to a severe heart attack or even sudden death. Activities such as exercise, meditation, adequate sleep can help reduce stress.
Health check-ups: Apart from following the above rules, it is important to conduct regular health screenings - blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, etc, for a healthy heart.