World Heart Day 2020: Taking care of one’s heart in times of pandemic and beyond

September 29, 2020 1:31 PM

According to the World Heart Federation, heart disease is known to be a silent killer which takes the lives of 17.5 million people each year accounting for 31% of global deaths.

The COVID-19 virus poses a particular risk to patients with underlying issues such as heart disease.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the healthcare professionals, healthcare systems and our individual duties – for our own health and that of our loved ones – to the forefront. Today, the health of self and family is a priority for all and every individual is willing to do whatever it takes to prioritize their family’s health and well-being. As we all know, the COVID-19 virus poses a particular risk to patients with underlying issues such as heart disease, thus amid the rising cases, it is extremely important than ever right now, to increase awareness about a heart-healthy lifestyle for everyone, to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve quality of wellbeing.

So this year, on World Heart Day, an initiative of the World Heart Federation for raising awareness about cardiovascular diseases (CVD), we must pledge to take care of our hearts and that of our dear ones by cooking and eating healthier, exercising more, being more active, checking in on each other’s well-being, following social distancing norms and wearing face masks in public places to protect our nation’s health and well-being.

According to the World Heart Federation, heart disease is known to be a silent killer which takes the lives of 17.5 million people each year accounting for 31% of global deaths. ManipalCigna’s 3600 Well-Being Survey 2019 also reveals that 77% of respondents agree that a change in lifestyle is indispensable for a healthy heart. Still, 1 in 6 of those who have experienced the symptoms have preferred to ignore it. Of those who do take action, many opt to self-manage through exercise, attempts at reducing stress and changing their diets, and only 24% use wearables to track and manage heart health, emphasizing the necessity for better understanding before we can entirely claim to be heart smart.

Generally, people have the propensity to only browse the apparent when it comes to understanding, identifying and addressing heart health. Furthermore, it is also worrying to note that millennials experience considerably more heart symptoms than the older age group, due to ever-increasing exposure to stress, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and obesity. But, this trend can be changed by making just a few small alterations in one’s life. People can shrink the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as improve their quality of life.

Maintaining a healthy heart from a young age helps as one advance in age. This should involve cardio exercises and keeping a check on cholesterol intake. People should be made aware that when considering heart health, the body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure are good indicators. Additional weight increases the heart’s work which raises a person’s blood pressure which in turn can harm the arteries.

Despite the present heart health rank, one can always start making progress by implementing lifestyle changes that will shield one’s heart going forward. Steps like calling a friend and scheduling that daily walk time or a yoga session, writing a healthy list for the next grocery visit, and scheduling an appointment with the doctor for a physical exam to make sure the cholesterol and blood pressure levels are where they need to be. Humble steps like these can bring a big change in one’s heart and complete health.

Also, India has witnessed an alarming rise in the incidence of heart disease and stroke in the past two decades. A life altering illness is something we do not think about and definitely do not plan ahead for. When such a situation arises, it can leave us feeling under-prepared and unsure. Thus, to tackle any such unforeseen situations with ease, it makes sense to be proactive and have an adequate health insurance cover at all times to protect one’s savings from being drained out in case of any unanticipated medical emergency.

During these unprecedented times, let’s also spread the awareness that wearing ‘Mask Zaroori Hai’ in public places to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 and safeguard those people with heart disease. Besides, we need to recognize that this is a stressful time for all, and it’s taking a toll on people’s physical and mental well-being more than ever. Hence, it’s equally important to reach out and start CHECKING-IN with friends, family or someone needing support in these worrying times. Just a call or message to know that someone is thinking of them can have a huge positive influence on a person’s emotional health and perhaps help few others who are struggling with cardiovascular diseases.

So, this World Heart Day, let’s all make a commitment to follow these three things – first, ‘MASK ZAROORI HAI’ to keep COVID-19 at bay; second, due to pandemic-imposed physical distancing, it is incredibly difficult to meet loved ones face-to-face, and this can cause stress in people’s lives, therefore ‘BAAT KI JIYE’ to feel more connected, reduce anxiety and bring calm to the mind. And lastly, we need to take care of our and our family’s heart by taking a few steps to stay heart-healthy! After all, Health Hai Toh Life Hai.

(By Prasun Sikdar, MD & CEO, ManipalCigna Health insurance Company Limited)

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