Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair


World Heart Day is globally held on the last Sunday of September each year to inform people about cardiovascular diseases, which are the biggest cause of death worldwide. The event also aims to promote preventative measures that reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In 1999 the World Heart Federation (WHF), in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the establishment of World Heart Day. The idea for this annual event was conceived by Antoni BayĆ©s de Luna, president of WHF from 1997–99. The first celebration was held on Sept. 24, 2000.

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and this is projected to remain so, according to WHO. About 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. 

Risk factors that may lead to heart disease and stroke include:
  • Raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Smoking.
  • Inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables.
  • Overweight.
  • Obesity.
  • Physical inactivity.
World Heart Day was created to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death. Together with organizations such as WHO, the World Heart Federation spreads the news that at least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – which are tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity – are controlled. World Heart Day started in 1999 and is held on the last Sunday of September every year.

Activities on this day?

Many people around the world unite with governments and non-government organizations celebrate and promote World Heart Day each year. Activities include fun runs, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The World Heart Federation organizes awareness events in more than 100 countries. They include:
  • Health checks.
  • Organized walks, runs and fitness sessions.
  • Public talks.
  • Stage shows.
  • Scientific forums.
  • Exhibitions.
  • Concerts.
  • Carnivals.
  • Sports tournaments.
These activities are done in partnership with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health.


The theme given to World Heart Day each year communicates the focus of that year’s celebration. The theme of the first event was “Physical Activity.” Other themes have included “Women and Heart Disease” in 2003, which was intended to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease in women, and “Know Your Risk!” in 2008, which was aimed at helping individuals identify the factors that place them at risk of cardiovascular disease.
The theme this year in 2012 is cardiovascular disease prevention among women and children.

Tips for healthier heart
Kick the butt


Smoking increases the chance of suffering from a coronary heart disease by two to four times by reducing blood circulation due to narrowed arteries. Scarily, 92 million out of India’s 285 million smokers don’t even know that it’s bad for their heart. Along with cardiovascular diseases smoking is responsible for other diseases like cancer as well and affects almost every organ in the body. And if that’s still not enough impetus to quit smoking, consider the fact that second hand smoke kills 600,000 people every year out of which 100,000 are children and 87% of deaths due to second hand smoke are due to cardiovascular diseases. So kick the butt now, if not for yourself then for your near and dear ones whom you’re exposing to second hand smoke.
Drink moderately

Alcohol’s effect on the heart is hotly debated. Numerous studies have found that people, who drink moderately, actually have better cardiovascular health than people who don’t drink or those who dont excessively. Moderate means either 330ml of beer, 60ml of hard liquor or 100ml of wine. However, others have debunked these results claiming that there isn’t even a way to define moderate and such revelations could lead to misunderstanding and increased drinking. What is not debatable is the fact that excessive drinking is tied to various cardiovascular issues like obesity, high blood pressure and increased risk to coronary artery disease. Binge drinking (drinking excessively in a short amount of time) too is linked to poor cardiovascular health. 
Work up a sweat

Our current sedentary lifestyle has played a major part in the rise of cardiovascular diseases around the world. Lack of exercise leads to build-up of bad cholesterol which prevents the blood from flowing freely and causes hypertension, heart attacks, etc. Exercising plays a very important role in your cardiovascular health. It facilitates weight loss, lowers blood pressure, increases your good ‘cholesterol’ level, improves blood circulation and allows your heart to pump more efficiently. In fact it helps reduce stress also by releasing feel good hormones called endorphins!
Sleep properly

The fact remains that our current work-play around the clock routine does have a hand in the various lifestyle diseases. It has been suggested that initially our body’s internal clock was adapted to the natural day-light schedule and exposure to artificial light has thrown it off-track. This has also led to various kinds of sleep disorders which in turn impacts your appetite causing obesity, glucose metabolism and increases blood pressure. It’s a vicious cycle really and getting enough sleep is very important to keep heart disease at bay.
Reduce intake of saturated and trans-fats

They are basically two kinds of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are present in food items like butter, red meat, dairy products, chocolates, etc. and are known to raise ‘LDL’ or bad cholesterol levels and most dieticians recommend limiting their intake. Trans-fats are unsaturated fats which have the same effect. Manufactured food items usually contain a lot of trans-fats and that’s why we suggest avoiding them.
Load up on unsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids

Unsaturated fats are of two types – mono-unsaturated (olive oil, nuts, peanut oil) and poly-unsaturated (sesame, cottonseed and soya bean oils). Both types of unsaturated fats are known to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and boost up good cholesterol levels.It is better to switch to olive oil, rice  bran oil or other healthier oils. Omega 3 fatty acids are poly-saturated fats which are considered essential because they can’t be manufactured by the human body and are present in marine and plant oils. Good sources include fish oils, milk compounds, flax seeds and nuts.
Take it easy

It’s still not clear how stress causes heart disease. Most experts concede that its part of a snowball effect of obesity, blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, lack of exercise, insomnia, etc. All the aforementioned conditions seem to go hand in hand with stress and that’s why taking it easy is imperative for your heart. Take up a hobby, play with your children or take up meditation – anything that will keep stress at bay.

Reduce salt and sugar intake

While moderate intake of salt is necessary, too much is linked to various cardiovascular ailments, particularly hypertension. Most people end up consuming a lot of salt without actually realising it, because they aren’t actually separately adding table salt to their food. Food items like bread, butter or packaged noodles might not taste salty but play a part in increasing your salt intake.
Sugar on the other hand is an infamous culprit. Experts believe that the easy availability of sugar is fuelling the global obesity pandemic because we are naturally geared to seek it for the glucose – our primary source of energy which was earlier available only through natural sources like fruits. The only solution is to cut down on sugar intake by limiting – cakes, milk shakes, sweets, sweetmeats, fizzy drinks, cookies and ice-cream – pretty much everything your heart desires is bad for it.
Load up on veggies and fruits

There’s compelling evidence to suggest that people who eat more greens and fruits significantly lower their bad cholesterol levels and this also improves their digestive system and metabolism allowing the body to function better.You should get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in a day (400 grams) in a day.
Get regular check-ups

There is no alternative to being well informed. Get regular tests to check your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and the ECG test.One should start getting checked either after turning 30. People who experience symptoms like chest pain, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness or discomfort shouldn’t delay meeting a doc. 

Latest studies have shown Indians are the most vulnerable group to cardiovascular diseases in the world! High time to pull up your socks and get your life and lifestyle in order.


No comments: