One evening in 2008, Mukesh, a software engineer at a leading IT company was sitting down for dinner when he experienced a dull pain in the chest and was feeling light headed. Since the pain persisted for a few hours after dinner too, as a precautionary measure, Mukesh went into the hospital. Soon enough, the doctor’s diagnosed Mukesh with having suffered a mild heart attack. He was promptly put on medication and was asked to drastically change his lifestyle.

Mukesh happens to be one of the few people who’ve been lucky to survive a heart attack and lived to tell the tale. If one were to look at Mukesh’ s eating habits and lifestyle, it’s quite easy to draw similarities with a lot of people in today’s workforce. Heavy meals with high fat content, fast food, overweight owing to a sedentary lifestyle, undue stress at the workplace, lack of sleep, all of these are symptoms of an epidemic. Unfortunately, unlike other dire epidemics in the past, heart attacks are silent killers. Statistics show that nearly a third of the urban population are highly susceptible to heart diseases. Scientists have shown that despite relatively healthier diets as compared to the west, Indians have a higher propensity for cardiovascular disease. That being said, one can always stave off heart damage by making an active effort to change their lifestyle.

Making the right food choices, limiting the calorie intake from fats and the consumption of sugars and salt goes a long way to staying healthy. Overcoming the tendency to overeat until one feels full can be tackled by using whole grains and pulses in the diet. These are packed with complex carbohydrates and are high in their protein and fiber content, resulting in early satiety. It’s widely known that including nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and flaxseed in the diet is beneficial as these are packed with essential omega fatty acids which are cardio protective. Green leafy vegetables and low glycemic index fruits like apple, pear and guava are also essential to having a healthy heart.

Eating right is the first big step to tackling cardiovascular challenges. Small and frequent meals ensure one doesn’t resort to overeating and leaning towards fast foods to quickly satisfy hunger. Coupled with a change in other habits including regular exercise and frequent sleep, one can keep heart troubles at bay. Something as simple as a 20 minute brisk walk every day helps improve one’ health drastically. Given the alarming statistics on cardiovascular problems, the onus is on people to start making small changes that would go a long way into the future. As the popular saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a second chance like Mukesh.

 

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