Six Ways To Prevent Heart Disease in Your 20s
Don’t wait till your 40s to take care of your heart. Start early in your 20s to prevent the disease later in life
3 million people die of heart diseases every year in India. In the last five years, the number of heart attacks in people in their 20s and 30s has increased many folds.
20s is the most exciting time of your lives but keep in mind that you’re never too young to have a heart disease! A study done by ASSOCHAM last year found that in metros, in the age group of 20 to 39 years, 75% people studied had more than one risk factor for heart attacks. Combine that with our genetic predisposition to heart ailments and our sedentary lifestyle and you have all the makings of a heart attack!
Here’s how you can start early in your 20s for a healthy life:
1. Eat Well, Live Well
A healthy body weight spikes your cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure levels. Eat the good stuff like lean protein, whole grains, and fresh fruits every day. Anything which comes with the label ‘instant’ and is packed should not be in your kitchen shelf. Completely banish aerated drinks, junk food and namkeens as well.
2. Sweat a Little
The things you do and don’t do decide the length and quality of your life. You don’t have to buy a fancy gym membership or equipment, brisk walking is as good as running for reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes - the three key players in the development of heart disease.
To improve your overall heart health, American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
3. Don’t Smoke, Not Even Socially
Smokers have a three times more risk of developing heart disease than non-smokers. And if you hangout with a group of smokers, then according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, your risk of dying from a heart condition increases by 25%.
4. Know Your Family Tree
World Heart Federation says that if a first-degree male relative (that’s your father or brother) has suffered a heart attack before the age of 55, or if a first-degree female relative has suffered one before the age of 65, you are at greater risk of developing heart disease.
If your parents have suffered from heart disease before the age of 55, your risk of developing heart disease can rise to 50% compared to the general population.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that if a family has a pattern of heart attacks or heart disease in men before age 55 or in women before age 65, children in that family should undergo cholesterol testing before the age of 10.
5. Bring Down Your Stress
Stress does not directly cause heart attacks. But sudden, severe stress can cause something called a stress cardiomyopathy (or the broken heart syndrome), an under-diagnosed health condition with symptoms that are very close to a heart attack. And keeping your stress levels sorted lowers other direct heart attack risk factors like, blood pressure and cholesterol.
6. Know Your Numbers
The first step towards better health is to know where you stand currently. For that it is very important for you to know your health numbers. Get your lipid profile, blood sugar levels and blood pressure regularly checked. Regular physical checks that include tests to see if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease are advisable.
Remember, at any time in life, there’s always something you can do to decrease your chances of a heart disease.
Related Read: Soda and Heart Disease – How Much Is Too Much?
(Dr Nilesh Gautam, senior interventional cardiologist and head of the department of preventive cardiology and rehabilitation, Asian Heart Institute)
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