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Fit & Proper: Stay fit beyond 50

Regular exercise is a useful adjunct in bringing down blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol level

Upendra Kaul 

Upendra Kaul
Upendra Kaul, chairman, Batra Heart Centre

Interheart, a very significant global study answers why Indians are more prone to cardiovascular events such as and compared to their western counterparts.

The study identifies nine modifiable risk factors that explain the occurrence of heart attacks in 90 per cent cases. These are divided into two parts: adverse risk factors and protective risk factors

While the adverse risk factors are smoking, bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, abdominal obesity, mellitus and psycho-social stress, the protective risk factors are regular intake of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and moderate alcohol consumption.

Globally, all nine risk factors were very significantly associated with heart attacks except alcohol, which had only a modest statistical significance. The strongest risk predictor globally was found to be dyslipidemia (high level of lipids: cholesterol, triglycerides, or both), followed by current The risk associated with lipids and was particularly marked in the young (below 55 years of age in men and below 65 years in women) versus the older.  

Preventive Strategies

Current smoking 

over 20 or bidis per day increase the risk of by five times, 10 to 19 or bidis increases the risk by three times and less than five or bidis per day increases the risk by 1.5 times. one cigarette shortens life by 11 minutes and people exposed to second hand smoke have 90 per cent excessive rate of heat attacks. Quitting at any age nullifies this risk in 3 years. It is never too late to give up. Reducing to minimum also helps. 

Bad cholesterol 

High levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) promote heart disease. One per cent reduction in cholesterol leads to two per cent reduction in heart attacks. High risk individuals with multiple risk factors and even modestly raised levels of LDL cholesterol need the statin group of drugs (simvastatin, atorvastatin or rosuvastatin). All patients with proven heart and vascular disease need these drugs in high doses. These tablets should be taken under medical supervision and once required, need to be continued for long term.

Psycho-social stress

Chronic is associated with increased secretion of adrenaline, which raises blood pressure, predisposes people to diabetes. management programs that comprise of exercises, meditation and yoga are useful in alleviating These approaches aim at blunting the adrenaline response to and have added advantage of being safe. Drug treatment, if needed, must be under specialised supervision.

Regular exercise as a preventive risk factor is a very useful adjunct in bringing down blood pressure, and bad cholesterol levels. This combined with intake of plenty of seasonal fruits and green vegetables goes a long way in preventing heart attacks and stroke.


Next week: improve your cognitive functions with exercise

First Published: Sat, September 02 2017. 22:29 IST
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