Thursday, 1 October 2015

My Heart is beating ……. It keeps on beating………..

Tring…….. Tring…….. Tring…….

Rubbing my eyes I got up. Putting on my specs I looked at the mantelpiece and was alarmed to see that it was just 3 in the morning.  Alarm bells ringing in my mind, I ran to the living room. But before I could reach for the receiver the ring stopped. 

Dhak…… Dhak…. Dhak….. 

I could clearly hear my heart beat. Tension building up I waited for the caller to call again. Just when the wait seemed unbearable the telephone rang. Snatching the receiver from the cradle I put it close to my ears.  I felt my chest tighten, throat constrict and tears brim over only to roll down my cheeks. The world around me started to fade away. Keeping the receiver down I let my body fall wearily on the sofa.  Slowly but steadily I started sliding down memory lane. Her smiling face bringing more tears and before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably for that wonderful person who had just bid us farewell- my adorable aunt, my dad’s sister a truly unforgettable person. An active person, ever on her toes Sreedevi Aunt had as I learnt later, succumbed to a massive heart attack. That’s when I realized that the heart can play havoc at any age, with any gender, anytime.  One need not be 60+ to suffer a heart attack; it can also strike at 20 or 30. 

Post mourning, I started looking up articles on the heart and various ailments associated with it. What amazed me was that even the healthy, active ones could fall easy prey to it. ‘Why?’ ‘How?’ were the questions that cropped up in my mind. That was when  my husband and myself decided to go in for a health check-up to make sure that all was well not only with our heart but our other organs too. Since then we have been going in for regular check-ups but yes these last two years we’ve some-how given it a miss. It’s only when our daughter enquired about it recently, that we realized that we’ve once again started becoming lax on the health front.  So we decided we’d take a few positive steps to keep ourselves fit and fine. After all with a grandchild on the way we both need to make ourselves ready to give him/ her (whoever it is) a tough time. We need to be young in both body and soul to enjoy the gift that’s due in a few months from now. We decided to:

1. Go in for our Annual Health Checkup immediately. After all we need to be aware of what our body can withstand and what it cannot, what needs to be rectified or strengthened and why.

2. Eat for a healthy heart i.e.  keep a watch on what we eat. Now how do we identify what is healthy and what is not. For this I did an intensive search on the net and elsewhere, spoke to friends and family and this is what I found -

Omega -3 fatty acids: High levels of blood fat i.e. triglycerides and high blood pressure put one at high risk of heart diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids are found to lower elevated triglyceride levels and high blood pressure to a certain extent. While EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA ( docosahexaenoic)  are primarily found in certain types of fish and sea food  like salmon , sardines, anchovies, oysters, mussels, etc.,  ALA ( Alpha- linolenic acid) is found in plant sources i.e. certain nuts like walnuts and seeds such as flaxseed and rapeseed .  It is present in chocolates too.

Phytosterols (Plant sterols and stanols): Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.  They are endowed with powerful cholesterol- lowering properties and can be found in some cooking oils, milk and yoghurt too.  Intake of a handful of slivered almonds daily helps keep ‘bad’ cholesterol at bay. They are rich in plant sterols, fiber and heart-healthy fats. 

Lycopene: This is a hydrocarbon carotenoid that is found in tomatoes, apricot, watermelons, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, etc.  Lycopene works with other vitamins and minerals to prevent diseases.  Studies suggest that consumption of lycopene rich food leads to decreased levels of oxidized LDL. It may be noted that when LDL becomes ‘oxidized’ it leads to cholesterol accumulation in the arteries especially the coronary arteries, in the form of plaque. This plaque can rupture and be the cause of a heart attack. Apart from lowering oxidized LDL levels, lycopene enriched foods especially tomatoes reduce body inflammation, hypertension and lower the risk of a stroke. 

Pectin: Pectin is a naturally occurring soluble gelatinous polysaccharide. It is found in ripe fruits like apples, guava, plums, gooseberry, oranges and other citrus fruits. Pectin helps fight bad cholesterol.

Potassium:  Potassium rich foods lower the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart disease. Vegetables especially green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, beet greens, beans, yoghurt, clams, carrot and orange juice, fish, soya beans, bananas, milk, etc. are a rich source of potassium. 

Yoghurt also contains probiotics, natural bacteria that aid in digestion but also lead to healthy gum. And as we all know gum diseases elevate the risk of heart disease.
  
Flavanols : These are active antioxidants that fight free radicals and neutralize inflammation. They also influence our vascular health by lowering blood pressure, improving the flow of blood to both the brain and the heart, ensuring that blood platelets are less sticky and able to clot.  Chocolates, cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, etc. are rich in flavanols. 

Finally after my extensive research, hubby and I decided to cut down on chicken, eggs, fried foods, unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt and instead concentrate on tucking our tummy with fruits, vegetables, nuts, chocolates and fiber rich grains and cereals. Fish being my favorite  and one that’s healthy for the heart I’m planning to have it more often maybe a couple of times a week instead of the once a week regime that I generally follow at present. 

3. Make necessary changes to our lifestyle and ensure that we do not stick to our chair for long periods together i.e. ensure that we don’t stay glued to our laptop or TV set for hours together.  Our way of not only keeping the heart healthy but also keeping diabetes at bay.
  
4. “Exercise relieves stress. Nothing relieves exercise.” ( Takayuki  Ikkaku)

Exercise regularly. My husband is way ahead of me in this matter. In fact he’s been always pestering me to take up yoga and other breathing exercises.  But somehow I’ve been giving him a deaf ear in the matter. However now with age catching up I’ve realized it’s best to heed to him. 

5. It’s quite a while since I’ve stopped walking for the sake of walking. I love walking but then displacement on account of frequent travel and change of place has somehow disrupted my normal routine of late. I know it’s not an excuse. I have to do something about that. So I’ve decided to get my treadmill that’s been lying neglected in a corner since the last couple of months, overhauled and resume my daily walk on it immediately. Hubby and I have also decided to resume our evening walk  once the monsoon recedes. I’ve also decided to get my gang of two i.e. my friends, to accompany us on these evening walks that’s been put off since the past five months on account of the summer and monsoon showers.  With that I’m sure I’ll be able to burn up the extra calories if any, that I consume as well as keep my cholesterol level within permissible limits.

6. Do my bit to keep my surroundings clean, healthy and pollution-free. Studies indicate that environment too plays a major role in cardio vascular diseases (CVD) and majority of CVDs are associated to air pollution and chemical exposure.  The best we can do is stay away from further aggravating the situation as well as create awareness among the people we constantly come into contact with. 

7. Last but not the least, be happy and stress-free. It’s always been our policy to share our worries and this we believe is the greatest stress-buster one that has helped us tide over difficult times and situations. After all ‘sharing is caring’ and here we share and care for each other’s heart.  







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“I am joining the Saffolalife #ProtectHerHeart initiative and pledging my support to better heart health in Association with BlogAdda.” 



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