Tuesday Nov 29, 2022
Tuesday Nov 29, 2022

Heart Health : Why it Matters

‘World Heart day 2022’ is being celebrated today to promote healthy habits and policies that will ensure heart health.

2022 Sep 29, 6:55, Kathmandu

World Heart Day is being celebrated in Nepal and around the world today to raise awareness and education among the global population. World Heart Day serves as a motivating factor for people to concentrate on their health and make some crucial lifestyle changes to keep themselves healthy.

Amidst the rise in cardiovascular diseases, the World Health Organization has established the celebration of ‘ World heart Day’ every year on the 29th of September. Different sports activities, health screenings and fundraising events are organized in ‘World Heart Day’ to bring forth collective action for ensuring heart health.

Today, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. 17.9 million people die every year due to cardiovascular diseases. As per WHO, cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other conditions. Most deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases are due to heart attacks and strokes.  “Heart diseases are increasing every year in Nepal. Poor diet, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle are contributing as the key causes of the rise of heart problems in Nepal,” says Dammar Kumari Khanal, Public Health Nurse at the National Health training center, Ministry of Health and Population. 

“First thing we need to do to keep our heart healthy is to be happy through effective stress management. Likewise, physical exercise with a nutritious diet is also very important,” she adds. 

Including generic disposition, physical factors like unhealthy diet and lack of exercise cause a lot of cardiovascular diseases. Similarly, people with heart conditions, hypertension and high cholesterol levels are at high risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases.

Age does serve as a significant factor in increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases but heart attacks and strokes not only happen to old people but many of the deaths are caused among young people as well. Adopting healthy eating habits such as lowering sugar , salt and fat intake with regular exercise will help prevent cardiovascular diseases.

“Our lifestyle has drastically changed in a few decades, whereas our evolutionary biology takes thousands of years to evolve. In the past, food was not readily available at all times, humans ate oily and sugary food when they had the opportunity to do so with the motive of storing energy in their body for the times of food scarcity. Now the same foods high in sugar and fats are linked with diseases related to the heart,” says Health expert, Dr. Rajendra Bhadra.

Tobacco use and consumption of alcohol are harmful habits that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Harmful habits cause high blood pressure, high blood glucose, raised blood lipids, overweight and obesity in people. WHO terms these harmful habits as “intermediate risk factors” that increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications.

Some of the Symptoms for heart attack are pain or discomfort in the centre of the chest, arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back. Likewise, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; light-headedness or faintness; a cold sweat; and turning pale are also among the symptoms of heart attack .

A person may experience numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing with one or both eyes, difficulty walking, dizziness and/or loss of balance or coordination, severe headache before a stroke.

However, much can be done to prevent cardiovascular diseases. WHO recommends these things we must start doing today to keep our heart healthy -

Eat healthy

Get active

Stay at a healthy weight

Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke

Control your cholesterol and blood pressure

Drink alcohol only in moderation

Manage stress

Currently the,  "Global action plan for the prevention and control of non communicable diseases" made my WHO member states, aims to reduce the number of premature deaths from non communicable diseases by 25% by 2025. This project will focus on the prevention and control of heart diseases in the following three years to come. Ensuring access to drug therapy and counselling to prevent heart attacks and strokes is also one of the many goals WHO member states will try to achieve in the following three years.


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