Healthy habits for a healthy heart

Posted on 29-09-2023

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Today, people are not only reminded that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s leading cause of death claiming 18.6 million lives each year, but they are also prompted to follow heathy habit to have a healthy heart and live a healthy life.

Here are healthy tips from one of the leading doctors in the UAE, Dr Houssein Ali Mustafa, consultant interventional cardiologist at Saudi German Hospital Dubai:

Quit smoking: Tobacco smoking has been a major contributor to heart disease over the years

Have a dental check-up: There is evidence that a link exists between your oral health and cardiovascular disease risk. Dental infection, tooth loss and periodontitis have an association with increased risk of arrhythmias, heart failure, stroke and myocardial infarction. Ensuring your oral health is in great shape is one way to help your heart health

Get moving: Physical exercise is one of the best ways to support your heart health. Your heart is a muscle and needs daily exercise that requires it to pump faster and stronger for periods to help maintain its function. Exercise also helps you manage your weight and stress levels in addition to helping your blood pressure and blood circulation. Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week

Get plenty of sleep: When our sleep is disturbed, either through night-time waking, insomnia or through shift-working, this disrupts the natural rhythms of our body. A knock-on effect of this disturbance is on our cardiovascular and metabolic health, increasing the risk of heart diseases. Aim to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night by practicing great sleep hygiene: sleep in a dark cool room, lower light levels and switch off screens at least an hour before bedtime and ensure you eat at least 3 hours before you retire

Manage your stress levels: Some stress is good for us, but excessive and chronic stress is not! Not surprisingly, high ongoing stress has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease

Manage your weight: An increase in your weight and your waistline both contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.

Here are more reminders from Dr. Carl B. Kapadia MD, MSc, FACC, FSCAI, consultant interventional cardiologist (American Board Certified) at NMC Royal Hospital, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi

Excess weight increases the risk of developing many comorbidities directly tied to heart disease: diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Further, the burden of extra weight on the body damages the heart’s muscles in and of itself, eventually leading to heart failure.

He underscored: “We must understand our background risks (including family history) and get assessed with regular annual check-ups to monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index.

“Ideally, we want to increase our “good cholesterol” (HDL) and reduce our “bad” cholesterol (LDL). This can be accomplished with regular low impact aerobic activity (walking, bicycling, swimming, yoga, etc.), smoking cessation, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (avoid red meats), legumes, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (avocado, olives, salmon, etc.)”

In these busy and fast-paced times, residents and citizens must prioritize their heart health by making time for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity a few times per week, opting for healthy home-cooked meals, and making smart choices when dining out (restaurants are happy to oblige to requests such as “less salt, less oil”), drinking plenty of water (thirst can be confused with hunger), and most critically, to stop smoking. Even small changes can significantly impact how long we live and how well we live those years.