We are writing today so that you can learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay “heart health” for yourself and your loved ones.
“What gets measured, get done.”
Let us know about some serious facts about our life style and plan for prevention.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in Pakistan. It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Pakistanis from working and enjoying family activities. CVD costs Pakistan over $20 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
Understanding the Burden of CVD
CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD.
Having a close relative who has heart disease puts you at higher risk for CVD. Health disparities based on geography also exist. Many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits, healthier living spaces, and better management of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease is caused by narrowed, blocked or stiffened blood vessels that prevent your heart, brain or other parts of your body from receiving enough blood. Unfortunately, these conditions aren’t often found until after a patient experiences a heart attack or stroke. So understanding the symptoms of these diseases is critical in order to get the right care as quickly as possible.
Symptoms vary depending on what type of heart ailment is present. Cardiovascular disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.
Always remember that there are three hallmark symptoms which indicate immediate action should be taken. Seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Risk factors for CVD
Risk factors for developing heart disease include:
- Age. Aging increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.
- Sex. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. However, women’s risk increases after menopause.
- Family history. A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).
- Smoking. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers.
- Poor diet. A diet that’s high in fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
- High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows.
- High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaques and atherosclerosis.
- Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
- Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors.
- Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors, as well.
- Stress. Unrelieved stress may damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.
- Poor hygiene. Not regularly washing your hands and not establishing other habits that can help prevent viral or bacterial infections can put you at risk of heart infections, especially if you already have an underlying heart condition. Poor dental health also may contribute to heart disease.
“ABC is not always, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. It can be Always Be Careful.”
Plan for Prevention
Try out these strategies for better heart health. You’ll be surprised how many of them can become lifelong habits!
Work with your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that put you at risk for CVD, such as high blood pressure and diabetes—conditions that can go unnoticed for too long.
1:- Monitor your blood pressure.
“35.3% Pakistanis suffer with high blood pressure.”
High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office.
2:- Get your cholesterol checked.
“30% Pakistanis have high cholesterol level.”
One should test his cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test and monitor your cholesterol level.
3:- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications. Limiting sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber.
4:- Maintain a healthy weight.
“23% Pakistani are overweight.”
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, health care professionals often calculate a number called body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s body fat. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI and then try to achieve your BMI level.
5:- Exercise regularly.
“38.4% Pakistanis doesn’t exercise regularly.”
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Remember to incorporate exercise into your day in different ways: take the stairs instead of the elevator etc. Exercising with friends and family can be a great way to stay healthy and have fun.
6:- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for CVD. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your health care team can suggest ways to help you quit.
7:- Manage your diabetes.
“11.7% Pakistanis have high blood sugar.”
If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your health care team about treatment options.
8:- Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, follow the instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you have side effects, talk with your health care team about your options.
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To Your Safety,
Faisal Javed Mir & First Aid to Save a Life Pakistan