Health Topics

Healthy Living

January 2012
Spare Your Heart
Dr Satyanarayana Upadhyayula & Dr Kanwal Kishore Kapur
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is one among the top killer diseases in the world and it has much
to do with unhealthy lifestyles. On an average, people at low risk for CHD live nearly 10 years longer than those at high risk.

CHD patients can seek to help themselves by bringing in significant changes in their lifestyle. It’s all about remembering to subject oneself to an executive health check similar to sending one’s car for regular servicing.

Risk Factors
Unhealthy diet, smoking, inactivity, stress and obesity are the risk factors that lead to Diabetes, Hypertension, Dyslipidemia, Metabolic Syndrome, and Sleep Apnea. They eventually end in a heart attack. But these are also factors that can be modified through strict changes in lifestyle.

Diabetes: Certain racial and ethnic groups (Indians among them) are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. India in fact has the disrepute of being the world capital of Diabetes. Approximately 65 per cent of patients with diabetes die of some form of CHD.

Hypertension: Blood pressure can vary with activity and age, but a healthy adult who is resting should have a systolic pressure below 120 and a diastolic below 80.

Dyslipidemia: Saturated fat in the food we consume is the main culprit in raising the blood cholesterol level. Foods rich in saturated fat include butter and fat in milk products, fat from
red meat, and tropical oils such as coconut oil.

Smoking and alcohol are among the other issues that come into play here.
  • Smokers are more than twice at risk for heart attacks as nonsmokers.
    Nonsmokers who are exposed to constant smoke also have an increased risk. Quit smoking unconditionally and immediately. If you don't smoke, never start.
  • You must do symptom limited aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes a day involving the large muscle groups - brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jumping rope or jogging.
  • Excess weight puts significant strain on your heart and worsens diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia.
  • Moderate drinkers are less likely to develop heart disease than people who drink heavily or don’t drink at all. As a rule pregnant women should not drink.
  • Poorly controlled stress and anger can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
  • These disorders and habits can be controlled and addressed through regulated diet, exercise and relaxation techniques such as guided imagery, massage, Tai Chi and
    yoga. Medications may be availed judiciously if needed. The point is about bidding adieu to pizza-burgerfries- cola culture.
Food to Avoid
  • Soda: Besides the 10 teaspoons of sugar found in each and every can, soda has tons of unhealthy components such as artificial food colours and sulphites. Diet soda is worse because it contains aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener that has been linked to anxiety, depression, dizziness, heart disease, stroke, birth defects,
    fatigue, and brain tumours.
  • French fries: It contains 300 times the amount of acrylamide that is allowed by the EPA in a bottle of water. French fries in fast food centres are 100 times worse than
    homemade French fries made in canola oil.
  • Potato chips: Chips have trans fat that will clog your arteries like crazy, severely increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Bacon: is completely loaded with sodium nitrates, saturated fats, tons of sodium and really harmful preservatives.
  • White Pasta: is a cesspool of saturated and trans fat. Pasta is bad for your heart in many ways, including the bad carbohydrates and the massive amounts of cholesterol.
Unhealthy cuisine

Judging by the avalanche of global and regional cuisines loaded with trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt, it has been rightly said that man digs his own grave with his “t-e-e-t-h”.

Popular cuisines like Chinese (noodles and fried rice), Italian (Pizza and Pasta), Thai (mix of sweet, sour and spice), American (Burger), French (Pastries, cheese wine), Mexican (flavors, colours and spices, Japanese (rice or noodles, fish), Spanish (vegetables, fish and meat) need no introduction. Indian cuisine is most harmful because of the high transfat and saturated fat as well as high salt content. The advantage of low red meat content may also be lost because of inappropriate cooking methods.
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
  • See additional information.