WOW | Heart Health
YOUR WELLBEING IN YOUR HANDS
It was interesting data that I gathered from Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi and Norvic International Hospital, Kathmandu: more than half of the adults who came for their routine checkup had higher than desired weight, uric acid and triglyceride levels. About quarter of them had high BP and about three quarters were not doing enough exercise! No wonder we Asians (even after immigration to other countries) remain the most prone race for developing Coronary Artery Disease. Statistically, one in four of us already has high BP, one in six has diabetes, and one in ten may be harbouring heart disease. Alarming to say the least. But what we are doing to prevent it? Is there something we can do? And above all. are we ready and willing to make that change?
Health remains an importance aspect of our overall wellbeing. The important aspects of sound health have been defined as: physical well being
mental well being and spiritual well being. We mostly talk and restrict ourselves to physical wellbeing. Bu mental and spiritual factors may be even more important. It is often found that lack of emotional stability and peace might be the root cause of faulty life style which in turn may result into high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, stroke among many other diseases.
Cardiac diseases are lifestyle diseases
Life has become increasingly competitive in an increasingly globalised world. This in turn has led to poor time management and loss of understanding of life’s priorities. The results are a stressful life, addictions, lack of enthusiasm for exercise or doing anything that doesn’t money! Living in constant undue fear and stress eventually leads to lifestyle diseases.
Stress and its effects
Stress can be described as any stimulus such as fear or pain that disturbs of interferes with the normal performance of a person. To some extent, stress seems unavoidable and even necessary to perform well. Beyond a level, however, the performance can fall. While acute stress can be thrilling and exciting, chronic stress can cause lot of physical and behavioural effects.
Stress has several effects on our body and behavior and can be categorized as physical effects and behavioural effects.
Physical effects can be seen as raised heart rate, increased sweating, headaches/ dizziness/blurred vision, aching neck and shoulders, skin rashes and lowered resistance to infection. Behavioral effects are anxiety and irritability, increased alcohol consumption/smoking, sleeping difficulties, poor concentration and reduced ability to cope.
Thinking has become a disease
Our mind is the seat for thought. Out of greed and ego (fear) it produces constantly a large number of thoughts which are mostly repetitive and unnecessary. In fact, they may be harmful as they may cause release of toxic chemicals in the body, leading to anxiety and cause damage to our systems. Over-thinking has today become a disease. Infact, I believe, more people might be suffering of thought attacks than heart attacks!
The mind was supposed to be our tool – a software that we can use when we need to. Unfortunately, the mind has taken full control of us today. Mind by its nature is very fearful, always seeks reassurance, safety and abundance. Sadly the owner of the mind has become the servant. We do what the mind asks us to do: run for shelter/ protection (ego) or run for more (greed).
Can we be free of the mind?
Do we have the on/off button of our mind in our control? Our mind keeps reviving recent or distant past or rehearsing or imagining possible future situations often involuntarily and unnecessarily. If we can create a gap of “no mind’’ a true sense of stillness and peace can be perceived. This will be the end of compulsive thinking. Flowers, children and animals will not look so relaxed and beautiful if they were worried about tomorrow. They just know to live in the present. May be we too will feel better if we can learn to live mostly in the present.
Any activity or hobby that can freeze us in the current moment like a deep sleep, sports, music, meditation, sex, alcohol, puja, natural beauty, children, pet animals can stop us from thinking about past and future. They give us relaxation. We therefore enjoy doing these. We must then try to spend maximum time in positive emotions like happiness, contentment, gratefulness, willingness to give, excitement and good cheer, and avoid negative emotions like guilt, sadness, jealousy, anger, stress and hostility.
Beat the stress
- Identify the cause.
- Observe how we are emotionally responding to it. Differentiate between fact and fear.
- Learn to accept the uncertainties of life
- Learn to accept our limitations for external achievements.
- Learn time management.
- Try relaxation techniques like meditation, puja (prayers), gardening, music, exercise, pet animals and laughter.
- Work towards mental relaxation and peace.
- Avoid addictions. No tobacco in any form.
- Diet control. Avoid trans fats and refined carbs.
- Exercise: 40-50 minutes of aerobic exercise, six days a week.
Dr Bharat Rawat (MD DM FAPSIC FACC FSCAI – USA) is the Associate Director Cardiology at Medanta Super Specialty Hospital in Indore, India. He may be contacted on 00919717783168.