Everything you need to know about your heart

Contributed by: Priyash Srivastava

Introduction

The average heart is about the size of an adult’s fist and is made up of atria, ventricles, valves, and various arteries and veins. A healthy heart helps maintain the overall health of the body by performing important functions:

  • Pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body
  • Transporting hormones and other important substances to different parts of the body through the blood
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Sending deoxygenated blood to the lungs for oxygenation

Here are some interesting facts about the heart:

  • The first case of heart disease was detected in a 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummy
  • The risk of heart attack is relatively high on Monday
  • A human heart weighs less than a kilogram but manages the function of nearly 60,000 miles of blood vessels spread throughout the body.
  • Laughter is good for your heart because it reduces stress and helps boost the immune system

The heart is a very complex organ and is vital to your survival. Thus, it is necessary to keep it healthy by exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and avoiding habits harmful to heart health.

On this World Heart Day, we highlight the most common heart diseases in the world, causes of heart disease, symptoms of heart disease that manifest when the heart is unhealthy, the best foods that help maintain a healthy heart and the best exercises to improve heart health. .

5 Most Common Heart Diseases

Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide due to disorders of the heart and blood vessels. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 17.9 million people died from CVD in 2019, which is about 32% of all global deaths. About 85% of deaths in this data are due to heart attacks and strokes.

Heart plays a very challenging role in keeping us alive. Since the organ is related to every part of the body, it is not surprising that there are several ailments associated with it. In this list, we will discuss the five most common types of heart disease:

Congenital Heart Diseases (CHDs)

CHD is the most common birth defect that can lead to a hole in the heart or something more serious. The main cause of CHD is still unknown, however, 15 to 20% of cases are caused by genetic conditions.

Doctors can diagnose these problems in the baby during pregnancy, but the body may not show any symptoms until the baby is an adult. And in some cases, symptoms may not even occur. People with CHD experience health problems, such as:

  • Problems with body growth and eating habits
  • Difficulty being physically active
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Chances of heart failure increase

Some of the primary causes of CHD include:

  • Mother’s poor diet and/or excessive medication
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Smoking habits among parents

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

CAD is the most common heart disease in which the arteries become too narrow, obstructing the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. This condition develops when waste products from cells and/or cholesterol build up in artery walls, forming plaque, which can lead to a heart attack.

To prevent yourself from CAD, you should:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking and alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight and control blood pressure Cholesterol levels under control

Heart arrhythmia

A heart arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart starts beating too slow or too fast due to irregular electrical impulses that coordinate the heartbeat. It can be caused by excessive intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, diet pills and certain medications.

This condition may be harmless and cause minor inconvenience in some cases, but if you are suffering from any other heart condition that may aggravate the condition, you may need immediate medical attention. These illnesses include CAD, high blood pressure or valve disorders.

Cardiologist

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening condition that mostly affects adults between the ages of 20 and 60. The disease begins in the left ventricle, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber and enlarges the heart muscle. As a result, the inside of the chamber expands and the problem progresses to the right ventricle and atria.

If treatment is delayed, the heart muscle walls weaken and will not be able to pump blood effectively. This can cause shortness of breath, swollen ankles, feet, stomach, neck veins and extreme fatigue.

Pulmonary stenosis

Pulmonary stenosis is a birth defect in which the pulmonary valve becomes narrow and rigid, preventing regular blood flow. In this condition, the pressure on the right ventricle of the baby’s heart increases as it works harder to maintain blood flow to the pulmonary artery. To compensate for the excess pressure, the right ventricle gradually thickens.

This can lead to a condition called hypertrophy – an increase in the size of an organ due to swelling. This condition is not very dangerous, but due to the tender age of the patient, it requires the intervention of a specialist.

Causes of heart complications

  • smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • high blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Being physically inactive
  • overweight (obesity)
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Unhealthy eating habits

Symptoms of heart complications

  • chest pain
  • Feeling sick (nausea and vomiting)
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • snoring
  • Prolonged cough
  • Chest pounding
  • Feeling sweaty
  • leg pain
  • arm pain
  • Jaw or back pain
  • suffocating feeling
  • ankle swelling
  • Extreme fatigue
  • irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

They are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and help manage blood pressure and promote arterial function. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, beans, carrots and beetroot are very beneficial for heart health.

Whole grain foods are rich in fiber that helps lower and manage cholesterol levels in the body, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa are some common and readily available whole grains.

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are excellent sources of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Walnuts are rich in fiber and micronutrients such as magnesium, copper, and manganese that help regulate blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels. These nutritional benefits of walnuts help improve heart health.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin that has therapeutic medicinal properties that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of garlic also reduces the risk of blood clots and promotes heart health.

It may sound a little hard to believe, but brisk walking can help improve heart conditions, all you need is a good pair of shoes. It increases blood flow to the heart and is easier on the joints (especially beneficial for those suffering from joint disease) than any other exercise.

Weight training helps build muscle, which increases blood flow and improves heart health.

Swimming is a proven full-body exercise that improves body tone, increases circulation and promotes heart health.

Yoga is one of the best ways to improve heart health and promote overall wellness. Yoga helps strengthen your bones and tone your muscles, which increases blood circulation and regulates blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.

Core workouts like planks and pilates help strengthen your core muscles and provide balance to the body. A strong core promotes your overall health and increases circulation which improves heart health.

last thought

The heart is one of the most complex organs in the body that keeps you alive and kicking. It works 24/7 and ensures continuous blood circulation to every part of the body. If the function of the heart is hampered, the effect can be quite severe on your overall well-being.

To ensure that your heart health is not compromised, it is highly recommended to get checked at regular intervals to ensure your proper health status. Take measures to avoid the aforementioned causes of heart disease and if you experience any symptoms, seek medical advice immediately.

Book a preventive heart checkup today!

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