Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Heatwave to Vitamin D deficiency; 10 unexpected causes of heart failure; tips to live longer

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In modern times, there’s a range of factors that may be affecting your heart and its efficiency to pump blood and supply oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to different parts of the organ. When your heart isn’t functioning well, everyday activities may seem like a burden. Climbing stairs can be an uphill task, doing your routine chores can exhaust you faster, coughing and shortness breath become your constant companions. Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart isn’t functioning at all, but it isn’t pumping as well as it should be. There is no cure to this condition, but to live longer, certain lifestyle changes can help a person affected by it to enjoy a reasonably good quality life. (Also read | Heatwave and heart attack: What’s the connection? How to beat extreme heat and manage heart health)

Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart isn’t functioning at all, but it isn’t pumping as well as it should be.(Shutterstock)

Your heart health may be affected by environmental causes, psychological reasons, nutrient deficiency, incorrect dietary choices, chronic inflammation due to certain diseases or even heatwaves. Every aspect of your health must be taken care of in order for optimal heart function.

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Extreme temperatures can affect your heart function as the organ has to work extra hard to maintain ideal temperature. Consuming too much sugar too can stress out your heart, and stress itself is a big risk factor for heart conditions.

What is heart failure

One of the most vital organs of the body is the heart, which pumps blood to all parts of the body. Incidence of cardiac diseases is on rise in young population and several factors like poor lifestyle choices, underlying heart conditions, family history of an individual or environment factors like pollutants, noise, or extreme heat – are the major reasons for medical conditions like sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure (HF) and heart attacks,”

Out of these, heart failure is responsible for 1.8 million hospitalisations annually in India, and it affects 2–3% of the world’s total population. HF is one of the leading medical causes of hospital admission among elderly population. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly common making it important to understand the unexpected causes of heart failure and tips for a longer life.

Unexpected causes of heart failure

According to Dr Manish Jha, Interventional Cardiologist, Director – Charak Heart Institute, Lucknow, “apart from the common causes of heart failure such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. There are unexpected causes of heart failure that people should be aware of, these include:

1. Sleep apnoea: It is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. This condition puts a strain on the heart, leading to an increased risk of heart failure. If one suspects having sleep apnoea, seeking medical attention immediately becomes essential.

2. Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. To maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, spending time outdoors, consuming vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms, or taking supplements can be helpful.”

3. Air pollution: Air pollution is a significant contributor to heart disease, with fine particulate matter causing inflammation and damage to the heart muscles. To reduce exposure to air pollution, individuals must avoid areas with heavy traffic, use air purifiers at home, and wear masks when necessary.

4. Poor dental hygiene: Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. To maintain good dental hygiene, brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist for regular check-ups should be followed.

5. Mental health disorders: Heart failure and depression are rather widespread in today’s world. Because these disorders have a substantial effect on hearth health in addition to their effects on the brain. Chronic stress and negative emotions are two factors that contribute to heart failure.

6. Overconsumption of sugar: Overconsumption of sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes, and an increased risk of heart disease. To reduce sugar intake, one must avoid processed foods, opt for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, and read food labels carefully.

7. Unhealthy gut: An imbalance in gut flora contributes to inflammation, heart disease, and heart failure. Gut health is crucial for heart health and overall health of the individual.

8. Noise pollution: One of the main risks of heart failure is exposure to loud noises, such as those from traffic and construction. Stress from these noises can raise blood pressure and put stress on the heart.

9. Chronic inflammation: Chronic illnesses that induce inflammation, such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis, raise the risk of heart failure since elevated inflammation levels are harmful to the heart.

10. Heatwaves: The intense heat mostly affects your cardiovascular system because it puts pressure on the heart. As the temperature rises, there is a consistent increase in heart failure cases.

Tips for longer life

Heart failure treatment aims to manage the conditions that contribute to heart failure, reduce strain on the heart, and prevent heart failure from becoming worse.

“Making lifestyle changes is the first step to having a better and healthier heart. There are plenty of medications available that doctors might prescribe based on the diagnosis. In case if the doctors feel that the heart function cannot be restored with medication, they may use surgical interventions and implants to help provide patients with an improved quality of life,” says Dr Jha.

“Valve replacement is the most basic treatment for heart failure, wherein a human heart valve is replaced with a bovine heart valve to restore the function. Ventricular Assist Device (VADs) and Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) are commonly corrective therapies for heart patients in India. A CRT device (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy) is another implant that has been in use for the last decade, and half of the results are exceptional. Unlike the bovine valve, it is a man-made device that regulates the electrical signals that make the heart pump blood”, Dr Jha added.

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