All it takes to keep your heart in good shape is a little caution along with a few simple checks. For those aged 35 or above, the first step to prevent heart conditions is to get a preventive check-up every two years. It means a few simple tests, including an electrocardiogram, a blood test and a blood pressure check-up. Those with a family history of heart conditions must be on guard from the age of 30. They should also undergo computed tomography angiography, a quick test that can predict the chances of a heart attack well in advance. "The problem is people tend to undergo a treadmill test, but it is positive only when there is a critical blockage. So, even if you have a 30-50 per cent clogged artery, the treadmill test report is negative. So, you feel good and begin to drink like a fish and smoke like a chimney. In the process, you run the risk of ending up with a heart attack in, say, just two years," says Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, a veteran cardiac surgeon and Chairman and Executive Director of Narayana Health. Those with congenital heart ailments such as a bicuspid valve, should see the doctor at least once a year.
Help Your Heart
First, exercise after you wake up. No. Flexing your muscles at the gym is not the exercise for staying fit. What you need is a combination of standard yoga exercises (starting from neck, shoulders and midriff and then going to hip and knee joints) for 30 minutes followed by dumb-bells for muscle building. Note: Running on the treadmill is not good for your body because all traditional exercises train your flexors but do not train your extensors. Flexors are muscles that come into action when you bend your arm at the elbow and extensors are those that come into play when you straighten your arm.
At the workplace, avoid sitting for long hours. It is the new health hazard, as serious as smoking. "Sitting on a chair endlessly is as bad as smoking," says Dr Shetty. The reason: The moment you sit down, the entire metabolic process comes to a grinding halt and it restarts as soon as you get up.
Ideally, avoid elevators, climb up the stairs and take short walks as many times as you can. As for tea/coffee, keep the smallest cup in front of you and drink only half of it. It is the first two or three sips that matter and give you the boost you seek.
debates on stent, diet
There is a new debate on the role of angioplasty in stable diseases. Based on various studies, a view is emerging that using a stent may not be the best solution for all types of chest pains. "Where patients have stable heart diseases, there is no use doing angioplasty," says Dr Rajeev Menon, cardiologist, chief of medical services at CARE Group of Hospitals and medical director, CARE HiTech City. Another debate area is diet. Earlier, a carbohydrate-rich diet was favoured, but now the shift is towards a diet rich in proteins and fats. It is because insulin resistance is directly related to carbohydrates and all extra carbohydrates could be detrimental to health.
Dr Devi Shetty thinks the big debate should be around ensuring the quality of medicines. "It is good that the government is clamping down on medicine prices but what about medicines that do not work?" Citing a life-saving drug called Warfarin, used to prevent clot formation in artificial valves, he says, "It is made by several companies and doesn't cost much. But I don't think anybody can make high-quality Warfarin at such low prices. To deal with quality concerns, we need to monitor the patients constantly."