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Almost 20 out of 100 adults in urban Bengal are likely to experience serious heart-related issues – Do you know why? A few simple lifestyle changes can save you!!

The largest cardiovascular disease mapping in India revealed that people in urban Kerala and Bengal are the most susceptible to serious heart-related issues. It was observed that nearly 20 of 100 adults in urban Bengal are likely to experience strokes, fatal or non-fatal heart attacks or other major cardiovascular events. A critical look at the statistics also shows that the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher in men than in women. So, what makes the urban Bengal population so prone to heart problems? Let’s find out.

 

1. Use of excess oil in cooking: A research published in Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease in India says that the use of excessive oil in cooking in Bengal had a cholesterol-raising effect. This can be attributed to the fact that people in Bengal tend to consume deep-fried foods like “luchi”, “aloo bhaja”, “chop”, etc. on a regular basis. It is a well-known fact that increased cholesterol in the bloodstream is directly responsible for numerous cardiovascular diseases.

 

2. Consuming too many sweets and added salt: A common practice among people of Bengal is to eat sweet dishes and sweets after each meal. Research shows that people who take sugar triple their chance of death from a heart disease. On the other hand, it has also been observed that a considerable proportion of Bengalis take extra raw salt with their meals. Consuming too much sodium chloride (salt) drastically raises the blood pressure. In addition to this, both sugar and salt play pivotal roles in the inception of severe inflammatory reactions and increases the level of C-reactive protein (CRP). People with high CRP-level are 3 times more vulnerable to experience a heart attack.

 

3. Smoking: The study observed that 49% of men in Bengal are smokers. Smoking damages the lining of our arteries, which increases the risk of developing heart problems. This directly corresponds to the statistic that males in urban Bengal are more prone to experience a major cardiovascular event than females.

 

4. Diabetes and Hypertension: An authentic survey points out that the proportion of diabetics in urban Bengal is almost 3 times higher than in other parts of West Bengal. A separate study published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine established that 47.2% of adults in urban Bengal had Hypertension. Both of them are precursors to cardiovascular problems.

 

5. Metabolic Syndrome: A study conducted among the urban population of Bengal revealed that 32.75% of them had metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome corresponds to a number of conditions including obesity, lipid abnormalities, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and impaired fasting glucose. All of the above have been established to be responsible for cardiovascular diseases.

 

6. Sedentary Lifestyle: It is well known that people of urban Bengal enjoy a slower pace of life compared to other cities. The “Comparative Study of Risk Factors of Cardiac Diseases among Urban and Rural Population” carried out by the Department of Genetics, Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan, Vivekananda Institute of Medical Sciences showed that a sedentary lifestyle is 2-3 times more common among urban subjects than rural ones. An inactive lifestyle is second only to tobacco use as a risk factor for CVDs.

 

The above information might have you worried. However, you can keep your heart and your life healthy, if you simply incorporate the following habits into your lifestyle.

 

i) Avoid fried foods: Fried foods have been proven to increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the blood. Try to avoid them as much as possible. Eat HDL-friendly (good cholesterol) foods like fish, nuts, whole grains, beans and legumes instead. Also, consider using olive oil or rice bran oil for cooking, as it lowers the impact of LDL cholesterol in your body. Always remember that all foods contain natural oils in different quantities and all cooked oils are unhealthy.

 

ii) Cut down on simple carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates break down easily and instantly increase blood sugar levels in diabetics, which is a risk factor for diverse cardiovascular diseases. Sweets, cakes, carbonated drinks, white bread, etc. are sources of simple carbohydrates. Load your diet with complex carbohydrate instead, which will fulfil your daily carbohydrate need as well as help you maintain normal blood sugar levels. Sources of complex carbohydrates include green and starchy vegetables; nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and fruits.

 

iii) Quit smoking: If you are determined to have a healthy heart, you must be committed to quitting your smoking habit. This will also improve your overall health and those around you as there will be no passive smoking.

 

iv) Maintain a healthy body weight: Having a balanced diet, regular exercise and proper sleep patterns will reduce the risk of developing obesity. Include colourful raw vegetables, fruits, green tea, green coffee, and adequate water in your daily diet to regulate metabolism. This will keep your weight under check.

 

v) Keep tight control over blood sugar and blood pressure levels: While people below the age of 50 years should keep their Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) level lower than 110 mg/dl and Post Prandial Blood Sugar (PPBS) under 150 mg/dl, people above 50 years in age must keep their FBS level below 120 mg/dl and PPDL under 180 mg/dl. The HbA1c level must be lesser than 6.5%. Have routine checkups of your blood sugar levels. Boost your daily potassium intake by including green vegetables and fresh fruits in your diet. It neutralises the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Reduce your sodium consumption by limiting added salts in your food and eating lesser processed foods. Control your stress and anger issues by practising “pranayama”. A balanced diet and proper exercise on a regular basis can keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels in control.

 

Your kitchen is an elixir for your heart

Herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds, cardamom, black cumin seeds, and cinnamon can work wonders for you. Taking these regularly in therapeutic quantities is highly effective in combating heart-related issues. Unfortunately, not everyone can consume all of these ingredients regularly. In that case, you can take 2 tablets of Cardiobotanics P twice daily as an option, because it contains kitchen herbs in therapeutic doses.

 

By Khalid Md. Saifullah
Editor-in-Chief, Health Companion

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