When heart disease runs in the family, what should one do?

Dr Narayan Gadkar, Consultant Cardiologist, Zen Multi-speciality Hospital, Chembur, shares about what one should do if there is a family history of Heart disease

Image source: Google
Image source: Google

As a family, we share happiness, difficult times, and a myriad of other aspects of life! However, we also share genes, behavioural and lifestyle traits, which are not just restricted to the present generation.

Through our ancestors to our future generations, the genetic material is passed between families – so do many diseases that exist among them. We are well aware of families being affected by diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, arthritis, and others.

The incidence of heart disease is on the rise, and the alarming fact is that young individuals are now prone to conditions such as high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia and coronary atherosclerosis.

These diseases can be attributed to the similar environment that we share along with sedentary/ unhealthy lifestyle choices which play a vital role in the occurrence of heart disease. The risk of acquiring heart disease increases if one or both parents suffer from the condition.

We have heard of young individuals, as young as 30 years of age, die of sudden heart attack or show signs of abnormal heart rhythms, fatigue, fainting episodes, and others.

While we may not be able to change or control the genetic make-up of an individual to prevent heart disease (or other inherited conditions), we may be able to modify the environmental and lifestyle-related factors.

Here’s a gist of what can be done to delay, if not prevent the occurrence of heart diseases:

Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a chief cause of high blood pressure and increased workload on the heart. With increased fat and cholesterol levels, we are choking our blood vessels, which then work under pressure to maintain circulation of blood. By regularly monitoring the kind of foods we eat and our BMI (weight in proportion to height, age, and sex), we can enable our body to perform its functions efficiently.

Eat foods high in anti-oxidants like Omega-III fatty acids, consume adequate quantities of vegetables and fruits, avoid red meat as well as ready-to-eat and preserved foods (as they have high salt content).

Refrain from smoking and alcohol consumption: They negatively affect your blood vessels.

Exercise: There should be no excuses for not incorporating activities in routine. Walking, any sporting activity, gym, swimming – take your pick. The important thing is to enjoy, and do not make it a chore.

Maintain a positive attitude: Studies show that people, who make disciplined lifestyle choices, lowered their risk of heart disease, despite the associated genetic component.

Chart out a diet and activity plan for the whole family and stick to it. Make each day more memorable by making the right lifestyle choices and keeping heart disease at bay.