If all three are normal, then you cannot have a heart attack for the next 5 years.
Does genetics affect Heart Health?
If someone in our family died early from a heart attack, we cannot just blame it on genetics.
Yes, genetics may be there, but it is hard to figure out, especially for Indian parents and grandparents because really there was not very good medical knowledge and research, and technology earlier.
Fast forward, to 2023, all the risk factors which can cause heart attack, 90% of them can easily be modified.
Think about it, 90% is a huge number. 10% maybe we can attribute to our male sex or our family genetics.
So, what are those factors?
The most important factors which we can be modified are following:
- Cholesterol level, especially LDL
- Psychosocial stressors
- No alcohol intake
- Inadequate exercise
- Irregular consumption of fruits and vegetables
The most important factors about the cholesterol is LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein called the bad cholesterol)
HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) & LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
They both are independent
LDL has its own importance and HDL has its own importance
LDL should be low, if you just remember the word L, low-density lipoprotein
The HDL should be high as one should remember by the alphabet, H. So, we can bring LDL as low as possible and HDL as high as possible and that will definitely promote the health of our heart.
Next factor is smoking
Very important factor for stroke.
Very important factor for decreasing blood supply to our legs or peripheral vascular disease.
If we quit smoking and if we can continue to quit smoking for 2 years, the risk of heart attack actually dramatically goes down and if we really continue not to smoke for 5 years, then our risk is as good as if we have not smoked. So, we should never give up, we should keep trying to quit smoking. It will definitely promote our heart health.
High blood pressure
Well, it is hard to believe the data but that data says 1 out of every 3 grown-ups more than 20 years old has hypertension and it is pretty much the same in men and women.
It is so important to treat high blood pressure. If we do not treat it, we are going to have a heart attack.
We can have strokes.
Our kidney may be damaged and we can have heart failure too. If we like it or not, but we have to maintain our normal resting blood pressure, upper number 120 and lower number 80, 120/80.
Sedentary lifestyle itself is a risk factor for the heart
We really need to exercise!!
It is recommended that anybody after age 50 should be doing door-to-door exercises for 2 hours. You can have any kind of physical activity. You can play tennis, which will be wonderful.
You can play sports. You can go swimming. You can go walking, running, bicycling, and anybody from 30 to 50 years.
Then on top of that, increased food consumption leads to overweight and obesity that itself becomes a risk factor for our heart.
It is very important that we take about 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
In other words, our mental health. It is very important for our hearts.
- We may be depressed. Yes, it is a risk factor.
- We may get angry, yes, a risk factor for our heart.
- We may be anxious. Yes, it is a very important risk factor for our heart.
We have to deal with our so-called psychosocial stressors. We have to maintain our mental health.
The best answer is counseling and our Indian population is very resistant to counseling.
They will talk with each other and they will share their anxiety and that helps but that is still not the management.
Psychologists have knowledge and psychology is a science also and you should seek counseling in a very confidential manner, discuss your issues and they will help you to resolve your personal conflicts and guide you.
Impaired glucose control or diabetes
This has been a very important factor in the heart attack.
Usually, when we have impaired glucose control or we have diabetes, we have a component of symptoms that we put together medically, what we call metabolic syndrome.
Our glucose is high!!
- When we have central obesity. It is like our tummy looks fat.
- We have low good cholesterol and good high-density lipoprotein.
- We have increased triglycerides.
- Our blood pressure is also high.
Believe it or not, about 35% of adults are older than 20 years, this criteria for metabolic syndrome, is they at least have 3 or 5 of these situations.
Irregular consumption of fruits and vegetables
Poorer nutrient intake affects the overall growth of a child. Lack of milk, fresh juices, vegetables and fruits is a major cause of dietary problems in children today. There is a huge intake of sugar, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium because of consumption of fast food and this is a major public health
concern as it can lead to the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, dental cavities, coronary heart diseases and obesity in youth.