As a result of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, "work from home" has become the new normal. With individuals staying indoors for long periods of time due to social distancing rules, the overall physical activity of people has decreased, resulting in a significant rise in the number of cardiac-related problems and deaths in the country. This phenomenon is highly prevalent in metro cities and is only rising.
The main contributing factors for these cardiac-related deaths are hypertension, dyslipidemia, and stress. Here are a few measures to significantly cut down the incidence of cardiac-related mortality and how to effectively prevent a heart attack without any medication, also known as primordial prevention.
As mentioned, the three major factors contributing to cardiovascular events are:
A. Hypertension - A condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high
B. Dyslipidemia - Abnormally elevated cholesterol or fats (lipids) in the blood
C. Stress - a feeling of emotional or physical tension
Let's discuss this under:
A) How to decrease blood pressure without medication
B) How to decrease bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and improve good cholesterol
A. HOW TO DECREASE BLOOD PRESSURE WITHOUT MEDICATION
Exercise: According to the WHO (World Health Organization), an average adult should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorously intense physical activity throughout the week. Exercise decreases blood pressure up to a minimum of 5-10 mmHg, leading to a reduction in cardiovascular events.
Intake of Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables, also rich in antioxidants, are known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) disease.
Dash Diet: DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. This plan was developed to lower blood pressure without medication.
Among others, it includes:
Decrease sodium in diet
Eat foods rich in nutrients that help to lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium
Limit the consumption of alcohol
Quit Cigarette Smoking: People who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to get heart diseases. The risk is higher in women smokers than compared to men. However, quitting cigarette smoking is recommended for all. Know that, smoking causes a decrease in oxygen supply to the heart, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Manage or Control Obesity: A healthy weight is important for your cardiac health. Due to the lockdown and "work from home" culture, along with other factors, a significant increase in the weight of people has been noted. More weight increases the pressure on the heart. Obese people are 2-6 times more prone to developing cardiac-related illnesses. Hence, it is important to manage your weight, especially if you are already obese.
B. HOW TO DECREASE BAD CHOLESTEROL (LDL: LOW-DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN), TRIGLYCERIDES (TG), AND IMPROVE GOOD CHOLESTEROL (HDL: HIGH-DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN)
Decrease Foods Rich in Cholesterol and Saturated Fats like:
Meat, non-vegetarian food
Milk fat: butter, cheese, malai, ice cream, and full cream milk
Avoid oily foods, fast foods, processed foods, candies and sweets, and bad carbohydrates
Avoid hidden fat in items like cakes and pastries
Include Good Fats in Diet like:
Walnuts, groundnuts, cashew nuts and almonds. These foods increase the HDL (High-density lipoprotein) which is also called good cholesterol and is cardio-protective.
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), 42.5gm of walnuts per day, low intake of saturated fat and cholesterol can prevent chronic heart disease. It is seen that a 10% reduction of blood cholesterol produces a 20-30% decline in chronic heart diseases related deaths.
Stress has now become one of the major reasons for cardiac-related deaths. The current pandemic has made people prone to stress and stress-related disorders.
Stress can cause hypertension through repeated blood pressure elevations as well as by stimulation of the nervous system which produces a large amount of vaso-constrictive hormones that increases blood pressure.
People with stress should opt for yoga, involve themselves in physical activity, spend quality time with friends and family, and indulge in a hobby.
In conclusion, if all measures mentioned above are followed correctly, it will significantly decrease cardiovascular events in the population.