Keep these 5 daily health promises for a healthy heart

This year, as world heart day celebrates the global community of Heart Heroes, Dr Ramakanta Panda, vice chairman of Asian Heart Institute and world-renowned heart surgeon reminds us of five everyday health promises that we need to keep to live longer, better and heart-healthy lives

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Promise yourself a sound sleep

Make sleep a priority. Researchers believe that sleeping too little causes disruption in our biological clocks and thus adversely affects body functions, including increasing the risk of developing high blood pressure and inflammation in the body and can cause heart disease.

The prescribed duration of sleep is nothing less than 7 to 8 hours. The depth of sleep is as important as its duration for it happens to be the time when the body undergoes repair, restoration and rest. It is important to sleep early and at the same time each night. If you have sleep apnea, you should be treated as this condition is linked to heart disease and arrhythmias.

Promise yourself an active lifestyle

Avoid prolonged sitting. When looking at the combined results of several observational studies that included nearly 800,000 people, researchers found that in those who sat the most, there was an associated 147 per cent increase in cardiovascular events and a 90 per cent increase in death caused by these events.

Park farther away from the office, take a few shorter walks throughout the day and/or use a standing work station so you can move up and down. And remember to exercise on most days.

Promise yourself tobacco-free surroundings

Don’t use tobacco in any form including smoking and make sure that you avoid secondhand smoke. Tobacco consumption is known to reduce the oxygen flow to the heart, damage internal lining of arteries, make artery wall thick, raise blood pressure, speed up the heart rate and increase the risk of blood clots.

The risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 per cent higher for people who are exposed to passive smoking at home or work. Non-smokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they are exposed to secondhand smoke.

This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries. It is best to banish this bad habit.

Promise yourself a balanced meal

Eat healthy fats, not man-made fats. We need fats in our diet, including saturated and polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats. But it is the trans fats that clog your arteries by raising your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering your good cholesterol levels (HDL).

By cutting them from your diet, you improve the blood flow. Trans fat is regular fat that is chemically altered and often used in packaged foods and fried fast foods to improve the taste, texture and shelf life.

Instead, fill half of your plate with colourful fruits and vegetables at each meal and snack. Eat the veggies and fruits first.  This healthy habit is sure to pay off. Include millets such as jawar, bajra, nachni and ragi in your diet plan.

Promise yourself a good dental hygiene

Practice good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily. Dental health is a good indication of overall health, including your heart, because those who have periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease.

Many studies on this issue have shown that bacteria in the mouth – relating to gum disease- can move into the bloodstream and infect an already existing cholesterol deposit on the arteries- making it susceptible to rupture, blood clot formation and heart attack.

So, floss and brush your teeth daily to ward off gum disease. It’s more than cavities you may have to deal with if you are fighting gum disease.