06 August 2010
By Dr Shirish Hiremath
To live and stay healthy, you must have a strong and healthy heart. And for that, you must not indulge in smoking/ drinking and try not to take stress. But do we follow these rules?
With our present lifestyles, women, like men, are at risk of heart diseases and heart attacks. In fact, heart diseases kill more women (who are 50+) than all the cancers combined. Pre-menopausal women are at lesser risk of coronary heart diseases (CHD) because of the production of hormones. But if you are suffering from diabetes, CHD risk increases.
Like in men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is pain and discomfort. However, heart attacks can occur also without any chest pain. Some of the other signs of heart attack are:
- Pain that runs along the neck, jaw or upper back
- Nausea, vomitting or indigestion
- Unexplained sweating
- Sudden /overwhelming fatigue
If the body produces more cholesterol than the cells can absorb, it settles on artery walls and contributes to atherosclerotic plaque, which is bad cholesterol. But there is good news for people suffering from high cholestrol. A new wonder drug Statins is proving to be efffective. It helps protect against heart attack, reduces the need for angioplasty and by-pass surgery by 40 per cent, may reverse coronary artery disease, can ameliorate heart failure and may prevent stroke, reduce death from respiratory diseases, prevent
Alzheimer’s and increase bone density.
The benefits of the drug outweighs the risk. The side effects are usually mild. One may suffer from muscle pain and elevation of liver enzymes, which must be checked regularly.
Diet for a healthy heart
- Foods with Omega-3 fatty acids like fish, soyabean and nuts are known to slow the growth rate of harmful plaque that can build up in the arteries.
- Trigonella from fenugreek seeds lowers LDL and VLDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels without altering HDL cholesterol.
- Garlic lowers blood pressure, LDL, TG, while increasing HDL.
- Fructooligosaccharides (naturally occurring sugars used as food additives) is extracted from fruits and vegetables such as bananas, onions, chicory root, garlic, asparagus, barley, wheat and tomatoes aids production of volatile fatty acids, increases in bifid bacteria and other beneficial microorganisms in the intestine, lowers intestinal PH, reduces constipation and also reduces serum TG and cholesterol.
- Antioxidants like Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium have a cardio protective effect. Food sources include red and yellow fruits and green leafy vegetables.
- Cut back/eliminate foods with unhealthy amounts of saturated fats.
- Preparing food with olive oil hepls lower cholesterol.
- Drinking green tea reduces the likeliness of cardiac problems.
- Eating more whole grains is good for cardiovascular health. Plus it makes the body feel full faster and keeps hunger at bay.
- Go easy on salt. High sodium can raise your BP. Soups and canned goods have high amounts of sodium.
- Limit consumption of red meat.