As we march forward after the serial lockdowns and finally 'unlocking', we now understand that COVID-19 is here to stay. Home isolation, while waiting for this pandemic to end, has already changed our lives, and also impacted heart health.
While the younger generation is busy working from home and online binge-watching, elderly people have become more inactive, and are ignoring their health issues. The fear of acquiring COVID-19 has many people avoiding timely medical advice even in emergency conditions. This has undeniably taken a toll on our heart health.
Simple lifestyle alterations, if made timely in various age groups can assure that our heart remains fit and healthy - you are never too young or too old - to take care of your heart.
For all age groups, here are some basic principles go keep our heart healthy.
Regardless of age, a healthy diet is must for a healthy heart. Increasing consumption of greens, fruits and limiting intake of junk-food and red meat are good for your heart. Adequate water intake is equally crucial.
STICK TO A ROUTINE
Waking up and going to sleep at regular times, taking adequate breaks during the day and making weekends relaxing will bring a sense of normalcy in your life.
RELAX, LAUGH AND SOCIALISE DIGITALLY
Isolation is known to cause Depression, which also affects your Heart. Video-calling your closed ones, having e-get together, joining virtual learning sessions, meditation and yoga help to let out your stress enormously
STOP SMOKING AND AVOID EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL
Smoking increases the oxidative stress leading to blockages in arteries. Excessive alcoholism decreases your immunity and makes you prone to infections.
For ages 30-49 years, which constitutes our working taskforce, who are now working from home, and are gradually setting out to office, here are some special watch outs.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT
A European study has shown that 1 in 3 individuals have gained weight in lockdown. Try to maintain a weekly weight and waist circumference record; and keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
LET YOUR HEART PUMP MORE
Any exercise is better than no exercise. If you live with family, distribute the home chores and try to make it a fun activity. Participate in moderate exercises (like brisk walking, aerobics or dancing) for at least 30 minutes a day.
REGULAR BREAKS FROM WORK
Timely breaks, inculcating simple hobbies like gardening, reading or learning a new language can help you unwind.
For ages 50-69 years, which constitutes those that are particularly vulnerable to new onset of heart ailments, here is some advice.
KEEP YOURSELF ACTIVE
Avoid sitting for prolonged periods. Simple home exercises and stretching keeps your heart active.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION WHEN NEEDED
Do not ignore chest pain, undue breathlessness swelling of legs or dizziness. These could be the indication of your new onset cardiac illness. Those aged 70 years and beyond need special attention during lockdown.
CONTINUE PRESCRIBED MEDICINES
Those diagnosed with heart conditions, Diabetes, high BP, high cholesterol should continue their medications. Arrange for regular online consultations and consider measuring blood pressure, sugar levels at home.
BE HEART SMART
Learn the warning signs of Heart Attack. Early intervention can be life-saving in cardiac emergencies. To sum up, a healthy heart leads to a happy life. As it is rightly said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
(The author Dr Manish Hinduja is Consultant Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund)
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