Laughter is the best medicine they say. Maybe because it makes the heart happy. However, a happy heart does not always mean a healthy heart. Heart is an important organ as it act as the generator of power supply to your body and without the power supply, all the system will be turned off and shut down. So, keeping a healthy heart is crucial to maintain a healthy bodily function.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Malaysian men and women. It includes the disease of the heart and the blood vessels such as coronary or ischemic heart disease (heart), cerebrovascular disease or stroke (brain) and peripheral vascular disease (of the lower legs). Coronary heart disease can present as chest pain or discomfort usually during physical activity or heart attack (acute coronary syndrome) when blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. When part of the heart muscle does not get the oxygen it needs to survive, it begins to die.
Most heart attack happens as the result of coronary heart disease. It caused by a process called ‘atherosclerosis’ or hardening or the arteries leading to plaque builds up in the wall of the blood vessel. This cause narrowing and disruption of blood to the heart. Risk factors for atherosclerosis is having high cholesterol or triglyceride, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption and diet high in saturated fats.
Up to 80% causes of sudden cardiac death are due to coronary heart disease. However, not all heart attack present as dramatic as crushing pain or collapse as shown in the TV. The symptom varies between individual. Some patient especially with underlying diabetes may not experience chest pain at all. Some may experience mild to severe chest tightness described as squeezing and heaviness associated with pain and tingling radiating to the right arm, shoulder, face, jaw and back area, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness and cold sweat. Heart attack is a medical emergency and every minutes matter.
Here are several ways you can do to keep your heart healthy:
- Regular medical check-up to screen for cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes and work with your doctor on strategies to keep it optimal
- Maintain healthy weight within normal BMI between 18 to 24. If you are overweight or obese and need helps to lose weight, talk to our doctors for more information
- Regular aerobic activity of various intensity from walking to jogging and running, gardening, swimming and cycling. Aim for 150 minutes of exercises every week
- Eat a balanced nutritious diets consists of wholegrain, fruits and vegetable and healthy fats. Avoid foods that are dense in calories such as fried foods, gravy, butter, sweetened drinks and foods and foods high in salt content
- Quit smoking
- Cut down on excessive alcohol consumption
- Get enough sleep and reduce your stress level
If you would like to know more about heart disease and its risk factors, talk to our doctors for more information.