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World Heart Day: Healthy habits for a healthy heart

Dubai: Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Today, people are not only reminded that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 18.6 million lives each year but are also prompted to follow healthy habits to have a healthy heart and live a healthy life.

Here are healthy tips from one of the leading doctors in the UAE, Dr. Houssein Ali Mustafa, consultant interventional cardiologist at Saudi German Hospital Dubai:

Quit smoking: Tobacco smoking has been a major contributor to heart disease over the years.

Have a dental check-up: Research shows a link between oral health and cardiovascular disease risk. Dental infection, tooth loss, and periodontitis are associated with an increased risk of arrhythmias, heart failure, stroke, and myocardial infarction. Ensuring your oral health is in great shape is one way to help your heart health.

Get moving: Physical exercise is one of the best ways to support your heart health. Your heart is a muscle and needs a daily activity that requires it to pump faster and stronger for periods to help maintain its function. Regular exercise also helps you manage your weight and stress levels in addition to helping your blood pressure and blood circulation. Individuals should aim to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly.

Get plenty of sleep: When our sleep is disturbed, either through night-time waking, insomnia, or through shift-working, this disrupts the natural rhythms of our body. A knock-on effect of this disturbance is on our cardiovascular and metabolic health, increasing the risk of heart diseases. Try to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night by practicing excellent sleep hygiene: sleep in a dark, cool room, lower light levels and switch off screens at least an hour before bedtime, and ensure you eat at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

Manage your stress levels: Some stress is good for us, but excessive and chronic stress is not! Not surprisingly, high ongoing stress increases the risk of heart disease.

Manage your weight: An increase in your weight and waistline contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.

Here are more reminders from Dr. Carl B. Kapadia, consultant interventional cardiologist at NMC Royal Hospital, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi:

Excess weight increases the risk of developing many comorbidities directly tied to heart disease: diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Further, the burden of extra weight on the body damages the heart’s muscles in and of itself, eventually leading to heart failure.

He emphasized, “We must understand our background risks (including family history) and get assessed with regular annual check-ups to monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index.

“Ideally, we want to increase our “good cholesterol” (HDL) and reduce our “bad” cholesterol (LDL). This can be accomplished with regular low impact aerobic activity (walking, bicycling, swimming, yoga, etc.), smoking cessation, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (avoid red meats), legumes, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (avocado, olives, salmon, etc.)”

In these busy and fast-paced times, residents and citizens must prioritize their heart health by making time for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity a few times per week, opting for healthy home-cooked meals, and making smart choices when dining out (restaurants are happy to oblige to requests such as “less salt, less oil”), drinking plenty of water (thirst can be confused with hunger), and most critically, to stop smoking. Even small changes can significantly impact how long and well we live those years.


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