Hameshaa dil ki suno! This is what we keep telling people, isn’t it? Listen to your heart, because it almost always guides you the right way. However, other than the inner messages, have you ever wondered if your heart is trying to tell you something else? In 2011, India had 6 million senior citizens with heart diseases. This number however is set to rise exponentially to 19.1 million by 2050.
Therefore, there is a need to pay attention to your heart. It appears that most often, the heart does send out some signals that it is not all right. But, since these symptoms could easily be mistaken for gastric or other issues, we ignore them. So, we bring you a simple guide that tells you what symptoms you should pay attention to, what diet you should follow, and what habits can help you stay away from being part of that statistic!
Chest pain is one of the known symptoms of heart issues. Yet, there are times when people ignore it to be a gastric or acidity issue. Chest pain may be due to gastric issues or panic attacks, or it could even be a muscle cramp. However, if the pain is severe, persists, or is recurrent, then it should be attended to. The pain itself may be differently experienced by different people. For some, it is heaviness, for others, it may be crushing like something kept on the heart. For a few others, this is accompanied by other symptoms like weariness, sweating, arm, neck, or jaw pain, etc. It is always better to get this checked out as early help can save lives.
At times, an upset stomach may also be due to heart issues. Yes, most often we link an upset stomach to something we ate. However, if there is no reason to suspect that, then an upset stomach should be a cause for worry. This could be a heart attack symptom, especially seen more in women.
Sudden pain in the neck, arm, or jaw may usually get ignored as cervical spondylosis. However, these symptoms may indicate a heart issue, even a heart attack. At times, you may also feel the pain in the throat, mouth, and windpipe. Possibly, some of these symptoms may be accompanied by dizziness. Hence, help should be sought immediately, especially if accompanied by discomfort and other symptoms.
If you find that doing regular chores is making you tired easily, you should get it checked by a doctor. This could also be a sign of heart issues. Swelling in the legs, ankle, and feet could also be an indication of heart disease. Sometimes, persistent cough could also be due to heart ailments. Another issue that should not be ignored is erratic heartbeats. This symptom could be due to serious heart issues as fatal as heart attacks.
Senior citizens should maintain a heart-friendly diet, even if there are no specific heart issues. This can help them stay healthy overall. The most important aspect of this diet is to choose fresh fruits and vegetables with high-fibre content and antioxidants. Some examples are broccoli, carrot, radish, karela (bitter gourd), tomatoes, berries (gooseberry(amla), strawberry, etc.), grapefruit, and avocado, orange, apples, pears, guava, etc. Also, include leafy greens high in nitrates and Vitamin K to help keep your heart healthy. It is better to avoid starchy foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca, etc. Use garlic as it has been proven to be good for heart health.
Staying hydrated is an important part of a healthy diet. Drink at least 2 litres of water every day. Try to keep a watch and set reminders, if required to make this happen. This habit helps counter a lot of health issues. Indian foods like pulses, beans, and legumes are good to have when cooked healthily with minimal fat. They provide the much-needed protein for strength.
Daily Calcium consumption is essential, especially for women. Include dairy products like milk, paneer, curd, etc. Us low-fat options if weight is a concern. Include more millets and whole grains (bajra, jowar, oats, etc.) in the diet to replace white rice. Using brown rice, millets and whole grains is a good diet option to maintain health overall. Consuming foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like nuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are also a healthy diet addition. For non-vegetarians, seafood is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Also, having one or two cups of tea, especially green tea is good for your heart. Avoid salty, processed, fried, and spicy foods as these are not good for your heart. Please do not fall for claims of healthy heart supplements as they may do more harm than good at times.
Habits and Hobbies
Regular exercise is good for overall health, especially heart health. If nothing, you could choose to walk for 15 to 20 minutes every day. It is also said that doing regular household activities are also good for your heart. Especially for women, the good news is that a recent study indicated that cooking and gardening are good for the heart. This kind of daily exercise significantly brought down the chances of heart issues.
You could add in some stress-busting activities like listening to music, knitting, solving puzzles, etc. Oh, and don’t forget to laugh and have occasional dark chocolate! Or maybe shake it up with Zumba, if you are up to it. It is essential to watch your weight and avoid being obese. One should also give up smoking as this habit is extremely bad for the heart.