Yesterday was World Heart Day, and there were reminders to the public in all the leading newspapers. In fact some newspapers took out supplement copies to give out articles on the importance of preventing and managing the activities of the heart.
We do tend to take our bodies for granted. As long as our bodies do not bother us unduly, we tend to accept they will be working always. The fact that our bodies need regular check ups and proper management is not considered important.
The articles in the newspapers were mostly by doctors, or cardiologists. They all gave out tips on how to manage the working of the heart as also information regarding the actual working of the heart.
Most of us know the heart is like a pump and it keeps pumping blood. But this heart can be damaged if we are careless and then regret later. Our lifestyle, our eating habits, our affinity towards stress, are all contributors to damaging the heart. Even the tendency of taking over the counter medications, or not following prescriptions properly, can also lead to heart trouble.
It is easy to say the heart is hurting, when rejected in love. That is not really heart pain, it is emotional pain. But such rejection can lead to depression and this can cause damage. So our moods too contribute to the health or lack of it of the heart.
One of my uncles’ passed away suddenly. He was known to not have been to a hospital, he would suffer from minor cold or fever. But he wouldn’t go meet a doctor, because he did not really regard them of importance. In his seventies, he suddenly passed away. He was apparently a healthy man, though since he never had any tests done, no one knew the state of his organs.
He died of a massive cardiac arrest, he could not be saved even though he was in the hospital at that time. He apparently complained of uneasiness in the chest, was taken to hospital, and died on the examination table. The family were very surprised, even those relatives who got the information.
His granddaughter told me she never understood how he died. This girl is just eleven years old. She told me he never went to any doctor and he was healthy. When I explained the concept of not knowing the state of his health precisely because he never visited a doctor, she was worried. She told me her father too never visited any doctor or had any tests done. I had to reassure her he would be undertaking such tests, he is aware of the hazards of ignoring his health.
This brings me to the point where heart attacks need not come with all the symptoms one sees in movies or serials. There can be silent attacks, or mild attacks that are dismissed as heart burns or gas. And heart attack need not come to older people only, now even those in their twenties are vulnerable. So the importance of regular check ups has to be understood.
One should be in constant touch with one’s physician. A family doctor who knows your family history and who knows you inside out is a better bet. This physician can get expert opinion if necessary, and he/she will be able to guide you to good health. Family doctors are not so popular breeds now, people keep rushing to experts or specialists. I have nothing against specialists, but they are focused on that part of the body which matters to them. Only a family doctor, or your GP can and will look at the body as a whole and give holistic treatment.
Do eat heart healthy food, tweak your lifestyle to be heart healthy and do bring in a spot of exercise. Try and manage your stress levels, because stress is there always. Some of it is good, it will act as a spur for you to move ahead, some of it is manageable. But the stress that is causing you worries, have to be probed, and proper steps taken to see they are kept under control.
Do get adequate amount of sleep, good quality sleep is essential for the body to undertake repair works. Your diet also has to be good, eat at regular intervals, eat high fiber, low fat foods and drink plenty of water. Water is an elixir of life and so consume it religiously.
Some amount of relaxation is essential, meditation can help. Listening to soothing music, not the head banging loud metallic music. Do take frequent breaks, go on holidays to rejuvenate yourself. Build up a good network of friends and others who will support and motivate you to reach your potential.
Heart attacks can be nasty. If you feel uneasy, do rush to the nearest doctor. Make sure your lipid profile and blood pressure is under control. But remember there is life after an attack. Maybe you will have to tone down your activities a little, but you should be able to resume your earlier activities soon. Negative coping skills like smoking and drinking can wreck havoc on your heart, so try to give them up.
Prevention is better than cure, so try to respect your body and remember it is the temple of your soul. So keeping it clean and healthy becomes your duty.