Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of death in India. These diseases do not differentiate, they affect the rich as well as the poor. There’s a preconceived notion that these are diseases that affect men only. But the truth is that it affects women as well. In fact, they are more at risk after menopause.
Therefore, it is important that you know about these diseases so that you prevent them from happening. Let’s have a look at the two most common cardiovascular diseases that affect the Indian population.
What is a heart attack?
Our heart gets supplied oxygen and nutrients via blood vessels called the coronary arteries. When the coronary arteries become constricted or blocked, the blood supply to the heart is severely restricted or completely cut off. This sudden blockage is called a heart attack. Partial blockage of blood can cause chest pain, also known as angina.
Warning signs of a heart attack
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Neck, jaw or back pain
- Pain or discomfort in arm or shoulder
- Cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness
- Shortness of breath
What is a stroke?
A stroke is like a heart attack but instead takes place in the heart. The blood vessel feeding the brain with blood and oxygen gets clogged or bursts suddenly. This can also cause damage to the brain tissue known as haemorrhagic stroke, which may require surgery to repair the damaged blood vessels.
Warning signs of a stroke
- Unexpected numbness or weakness of the arm, leg or one side of the body
- Face drooping or speech difficulty
- Blurry vision in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, loss of balance or dizziness
- Sudden severe headache
What are the causes of heart attack and stroke?
As mentioned, heart attacks and strokes occur due to blockage that prevents blood flow to the heart or brain. The reason for obstruction is the build-up of fats on the inner walls of the blood vessels. The fatty deposition makes blood vessels narrower and less penetrable. Such blood vessels are also more likely to clogged by blood clots.
How does fat build up in the blood vessels?
What are the risk factors for heart attack & stroke?
Tobacco use: Tobacco contains harmful substances that can damage your blood vessels, lungs and heart.
Lack of physical activity: Inactivity increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
High blood pressure: Hypertension makes the walls of your blood vessels more rigid which in turn restricts healthy circulation.
High cholesterol: Leads to a build-up of fats in the blood vessels.
Family history: Coronary artery diseases like heart attack and stroke run in the family and can be inherited.
Tips to reduce your risk of heart attack & stroke
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
- Limit salt, sugar & fat in your diet
- At least 30 minutes of physical activity daily is a must
- Make sure you are eating fruits & vegetables daily
- Get your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and fats checked regularly