Everybody knows of somebody who had a sudden heart attack. Heart disease is truly the most dreaded health problem in modern life even in people who are living a reasonably healthy life. So is heart disease an unforeseen catastrophe, which can strike you out of the blue or can you actually predict your risk and do something about it.
The World Health Organization stated in 2010 that 80% of premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. A British study called the Whitehall study on 19000 healthy office-goers found that those with a healthy lifestyle and healthy parameters like Blood pressure, blood sugar and weight had on average a 10 year longer life than those who do not. It should, therefore, be obvious that we should know about the health of our heart and how to improve it. This will “add years to our life” and also “add life to our years”.
We present a simple scheme showing you how this is actually possible. It is based on an initiative by American Heart Association called Life’s Simple Seven, but it is equally applicable to Indians.
What is Life’s Simple Seven?
Life’s Simple Seven lists 7 simple questions that you should be able to answer about your lifestyle and health status. It consists of four health-related behaviours – smoking and tobacco, healthy diet, adequate exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, 3 things that you have to measure are – blood pressure, blood sugar and serum cholesterol.
Your answer can be rated to carry 0, 1 or 2 points. Score calculation: 2 points for ideal, 1 point for intermediate and 0 points for poor quality. These calculations are then added and the total score will identify 3 ranks of lifestyle health, 10-14 being optimal, 5-9 being average, and 0-4 being inadequate. Research has revealed that the overall lifetime risk for heart failure among adults aged from 45-64 is only 14.4% if they fall into the optimal category, 26.8% for average, and an alarming 48.6% for those in the inadequate category.
(Score: 2 points = Ideal; 1 point = Intermediate;
0 points = poor quality)
||Physical exercise and activities
strengthen your body, mind and reduce your risk for
cardiovascular issues. Find exercises and activities you
enjoy and can engage with at least 12 times per month and
consult with your primary care physician if you are just
2 points for 150 minutes moderate activity or 75 min
vigorous activity per week. 1 point – less exercise, and 0
points for none
What constitutes a healthy diet has
become controversial of late. However, you should Eat a
healthy balanced diet with less salt and sugar, avoid fast
foods, take plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fat intake is
permissible but watch the calories. Non-veg foods are
also healthy with an emphasis on white meat and eggs. Milk
and milk products are important sources of protein in the
2 points for a healthy diet, 1 point for intermediate diet,
0 points for unhealthy diet – if you don’t take a balanced
|WATCHING YOUR BMI
Calculate your Body Mass
Index (BMI). It is a close approximation of body fat and is
a better guide than weight alone.
It is calculated as the weight in kg divided by the square of
the height in metres.
For Indians, BMI should be below 23 (2 points)
BMI > 23-28 scores 1 point
BMI >28 is unhealthy and scores 0 points
The higher the pressure, the greater
the risk of damage being caused to your heart and veins
Normal BP is <120/80 without treatment (2 points)
Score 0 points if BP is >140 upper or> 90 lower value
with or without treatment.
Score 1 point for intermediate values or even for normal
value with treatment
||there are 2 types of
cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and
high-density lipoproteins. Although cholesterol is
essential for your body to function properly, an unhealthy
amount of LDL cholesterol may clog your arteries.Score
2 points for total cholesterol <200 mg/dl, 1 point for
200-240 mg/dl and 0 points for higher values
knowing your blood sugar is just as
important as knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Prediabetes can be managed with diet and exercise while diabetes usually needs drugs. Risk of heart disease is raised even with prediabetes
If you are not fasting, glycosylated Hemoglobin can be
measured to denote the 3-month average glucose level.
FPG (Fasting plasma glucose ) <100 mg/dl or
HbA1c <5.7% is ideal and scores 2 points
FPG 100-120 or HbA1c 5.8-6.4 gets 1 point
FPG >120 or HbA1C> 6.5 increases risk – 0 points
Inhaled or oral tobacco damages almost
every organ in your body, and the chemicals in tobacco can
harm the structure and function of your blood vessels and
damage your heart. This even applies to the e-cigarettes
which are being promoted today
2 pts for no tobacco/smoking (Never or left >12 months)
1 pt for those who have quit < 12 mon ago
0 pt for current users
Use this as an approximate guide to the health of your heart and a call to action to improve it. Remember your health is primarily in your hands and that there is a lot that each one of us can do to improve it. This is true for even those people who already have a health issue. The doctor can be a friend and mentor in this road to good health.
Put up this chart at your home or work-space and remind yourself constantly about what you can do. Set yourself simple health goals every week and then follow them regularly. Occasional indulgences are permitted provided we take care of the big picture.
Listen to your heart because “Yeh Dil Maange More”!