Tips to protect yourself from the Dangers of Heart Disease
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We may all know someone in our family - a grandfather, a great grandfather, or an uncle or an aunt - who appeared in good health until they suffered a fatal heart attack unexpectedly. Sudden heart failure or cardiac arrest is one of the most common complications of heart disease, which is a very common illness in India and in the world.
Also known as cardiovascular disease or CVD, it stems from many risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a generally sedentary lifestyle. According to the Global Burden of Disease, 24.8% of all deaths in India can be traced back to heart diseases. And with risk factors like sedentary work going up in younger people, cases of cardiac arrest are now becoming increasingly common in younger age groups too.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from the dangers of heart diseases? To understand this, we need to first get a closer look at how heart diseases can be dangerous in the first place.
What are the dangers of heart disease?
Contrary to popular opinion, a cardiac arrest is not the same thing as a heart attack. And these two terms are not the same as heart disease. The term ‘heart disease’ is used to describe a variety of conditions that could affect your heart. And this is where the true dangers of cardiac diseases lie.
Here is a closer look at the different dangers that heart disease may pose to the body.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Coronary Heart Disease occurs when plaque - a waxy substance - builds up in the blood vessels. It eventually narrows the blood vessels and reduces the flow of blood to the heart. This can lead to chest pains initially. And if an artery is completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack.
Your heart has a regular rhythm to pump blood throughout the body. Arrhythmia is a condition wherein the rhythm of the heart is disrupted and becomes abnormal. It may cause your heart to beat slower than necessary. This means your body’s muscles will not get enough oxygen. Extreme cases of arrhythmia may cause fibrillation, which can be fatal.
Your heart is made up of muscles. And for the blood flow to be regular and normal, the heart muscles must be agile and active. Cardiomyopathy causes thickening of the heart muscles, limiting the flow of blood. This may cause blood to pool in your heart and reduce the supply of oxygen to the other parts of your body.
Heart Valve Disease
Your heart has four chambers, and the entry/exit of each chamber has heart valves. These valves open and close as needed, making the familiar lub-dub sound you hear from your heart. Heart valve disease may result in backward flow of blood or may cause the valves to thicken, thereby reducing their function.
Like other parts of your body, the heart may also be infected with bacteria or viruses. This may be quite rare, and in some cases, the infections may also go away on their own. But occasionally, a heart infection could have life-threatening consequences.
Tips to protect yourself from the dangers of heart disease
As you can see, the dangers of heart disease are many and varied. So, how do you protect your heart from being affected in any of the ways mentioned above, and keep it healthy? There is no clear-cut answer to that question. It is not always possible to prevent a heart attack or keep heart diseases at bay.
However, there are some things that you can do to reduce the heart attack risk associated with your body. And some things you can do to ensure that you are protected in the future, both healthy-wise and money-wise.
Here are 5 such tips to help you out.
Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. The good news is that there is no ‘right’ form of exercise. As long as you keep your body moving instead of being mostly sedentary, your heart will thank you for it. Experts recommend at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily activity.
But apart from the time you dedicate to exercise, make sure that you allow your body to move whenever possible. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, keep your water bottle a few steps away from your workstation, or simply get up and stretch every half an hour or so if you have a desk job.
If exercise is one half of the plan, your diet is the other. It is essential to eat a heart-healthy diet if you want to steer clear of heart diseases as you age. The rules for this are quite simple. Avoid eating foods high in bad cholesterol. Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods. And eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
It is the same set of guidelines you’ll hear from doctors if you want to keep any number of other major diseases at bay, like cancer, diabetes, renal failure etc. So, eating balanced meals doesn’t just keep your heart healthy, but also ensures that the other vital organs in your body are functioning well.
Stress can affect the heart in many ways. In some people, it may gradually lead to hypertension or high blood pressure. In others, it may directly cause cardiac arrest. While it is not always possible to keep stress away, you can reduce the stress levels in your body and mind by adopting relaxing techniques like the following –
- A hobby like painting, gardening or playing a musical instrument
- Listening to music
- Taking a nap
- Practising yoga
Regular medical check-ups
The tips mentioned above are steps you should take to prevent heart diseases. But simultaneously, it is also important to keep one eye on what’s actually going on in your body. Regular medical check-ups can help you with this. By getting your general check-ups done every six months or every year, you can catch any signs of heart disease early on and take the necessary medical steps sooner than later.
Many heart diseases are typically classified as critical illnesses. A critical illness is any life-threatening condition that requires medical support, without which the patient may pass away. The costs of treating a critical illness like heart disease can run into lakhs of rupees. And if a heart attack or a cardiac arrest occurs unexpectedly - as it almost always does - the expenses involved in treating the patient may be quite steep.
Without an adequate financial safety net in place, you may have to sell your investments or use the money you have saved diligently over the years.
A better alternative would be to insure yourself with a critical illness insurance plan. A critical illness cover offers financial protection in case the policyholder has been diagnosed with any of the critical illnesses specified in the plan. So, at such a crucial point in time, you can focus on the recovery while your critical illness cover takes care of the bills.
The ABSLI CritiShield Plan is one such insurance policy that offers coverage for cardiac and renal diseases. Both early and major stage cardiac conditions are covered under this plan. You get 30% of the sum assured as a payout in case of an early stage heart disease, and 100% of the payout in case of a major stage condition.
These tips and tricks may help you protect your heart and your savings from the dangers of heart disease. Remember that as with all preventive measures, you need to take these steps early in life. The earlier you adopt a healthy lifestyle, the better your health will be in the long run. And the younger you are when you buy your critical insurance cover, the lower your premiums will be.
ABSLI CritiShield Plan(UIN: 109N104V02) is a traditional non participating health insurance plan.
ABSLI Life Shield Plan
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- Choice of 8 plan options
- Cover your spouse under the same policy
- Longer Life cover till age 85
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