Guide to a Healthy Heart!

~Dr Swati Garekar, Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund ~

‘Be watchful of what you eat’ may have been told to you man times. You may be eating good amounts of food, however the questions lies in whether you are maintaining a nutritious and well balanced diet; especially to ensure your heart is healthy. Keeping a healthy heart is not only dependant on your food intake but also on one’s lifestyle modifications.


Dr Swati Garekar, Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, highlights a 360 degree approach to maintaining a nourished and healthy heart.

  1. Eat Right: Follow a balanced diet and drink enough water. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits daily (four and a half cups in a day). Avoid canned products and minimize packaged juices. Consume whole grains (polished rice, maida are not whole grains) daily (3.5cups a day). Opt for fat-free or low fat-dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt). Consume proteins from legumes (all kinds of dals), eggs, chicken, sea food, nuts and seeds. Limit oil intake to 5 teaspoons a day per person. Limit added sugar (not naturally occurring sugar) and salt.
  2. Watch your weight. Obesity leads to high Cholesterol, high Blood Pressure and Diabetes that contribute to Heart disease. BMI (reflects the fat content of the body) of less than 25kg/m2 is desirable, that more than 25 means you are overweight. BMI of more than 30 means that you are obese. The BMI is easy to calculate; it uses the height and weight to give a range of normal BMI.
  3. Exercise Daily. Our whole body and especially the Heart, benefits from regular exercise. Healthy adults need 20mins of moderate intensity exercise (like brisk walking, dancing, cycling, swimming) a day. In addition, muscle strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulder, arms) should be done twice a week. Teenagers need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise a day.
  4. Check your Blood Pressure. High Blood Pressure(BP) is a critical risk factor for Heart disease. It causes Congestive Heart Failure happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood out to the other organs, this can be a deadly condition. For most adults, BP of less than 120/80mm Hg is desirable. A reading of 140/90mm Hg is considered as High Blood Pressure. Check your blood pressure frequently; controlling weight and diet are useful to control blood pressure.
  5. Get your blood sugar level checked if you have family history of Diabetes or if you are over 45yrs of age. A desirable fasting Blood Sugar level is 100mg/dl or less. Keep Diabetes under control with diet, exercise and medications as advised by your doctor.
  6. Smoking and excessive Alcohol kill. Smoking injures blood vessel linings; break the habit. Avoid second hand smoke too. Alcohol in excess promotes high BP and obesity. Drink only in moderation.
  7. Be familiar with the warning signs of a Heart Attack. There may be chest pain of squeezing type that comes and goes. It may spread to neck, back, arms; you may feel nauseated, short of breath, dizzy and break out in cold sweat. If you suspect a heart attack, reach a well equipped hospital with round the clock availability of Cardiologists and a well-equipped CathLab, as soon as you can.


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