How to take care of your heart in your 30, 40s, 50s and 60s?

Starting as early as possible ensures a better outcome later in life


Think you’re too young to have heart disease? Think Again! It’s not your chronological age but how you live your life that determines your heart health.


Long working hours, increased stress, irregular meals, unhealthy diet, obesity, lack of exercise & sleep can all take a toll on your heart. In fact, your heart may well be older than you!


Also, bear in mind that heart disease is no longer an “old man’s disease”. It is increasingly targeting the young. So if heart disease is now striking early in life, prevention should begin as early as possible.


According to Dr. Sreekanth B. Shetty, Head & Senior Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Sakra World Hospital, prevention should start in your childhood. “Childhood obesity leads to obesity in adults and increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol disorders - all of which can lead to heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Shetty.


His mantra for a healthy heart is to eat right (fibre-rich, low fat, low carb diet) and exercise regularly, starting as early as possible. After all, good health habits developed early in life are usually difficult to change later! Dr. Shetty also recommends maintaining your ideal body weight and abstaining from all forms of tobacco use and alcohol abuse. 


In your 30s …


Thirties is when you spend most of your time in office and undergo lifestyle changes (like working long hours, getting insufficient sleep, lack of physical activity and eating junk food or food that can be served quickly or are ready-to-eat).


It’s also the age when your heart needs more care because apart from work you also begin to have other responsibilities like family. During your 30s, responsibilities in all spheres of life start building up and health tends to take a back seat. Typically, people tend to lose muscle mass and abdominal fat starts to build up.


Doctor’s advice: It is important to regularly check your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. If these are found to be high, consult a physician and take appropriate measures in your diet, physical activity and medications. Even if you have no lifestyle disorder, do not binge or follow an unhealthy lifestyle.


In your 40s …


Forties is when you need to devote equal time for your family and work. Unfortunately, in the tussle for a work-life balance, the latter usually loses out. Reverse this is a mistake. “In your 40s, family and career responsibilities are at their peak so maintaining a healthy work life balance is very critical. Those who have hitherto lead a poor lifestyle are likely to manifest overt diseases at this stage, including premature heart attacks and stroke,” says Dr. Sreekanth.


Doctor’s Advice: Be alert to the relevant symptoms. Get regular checkups and follow a healthy lifestyle. Learn de-stressing techniques like meditation. Stress tests done on a regular basis will help pick up silent coronary disease.


In your 50s …


Fifties is when you are at the threshold of health-related problems, unless you have a healthy lifestyle and abstained from bad habits. “In your 50s, the incidence of manifest heart disease and strokes increases. The most critical part of heart care is recognizing the symptoms of heart disease and stroke. The faster you can act, limited will be the damage,” says Dr. Sreekanth.


Doctor’s Advice: Learn all about symptoms of heart diseases (and stroke), modes of treatment and how to prevent recurrences - speak to your doctor about it as soon as possible. Expedient treatment of these events can help save your life and limit disability. Delayed treatment of heart disease can be fatal.


In your 60s & 70s …


During the sixties and seventies, many of your vital body functions start to shrink and you are likely to be in the stage of care and medication to stay healthy for the rest of your life. You may also have to deal with disability related to previous heart attacks and stroke.


Also, in these twilight years, other co-morbidities such as renal dysfunction set in, which significantly vitiate outcomes in patients with heart disease. “Heart failure is a dreaded consequence of chronic heart disease. It imposes serious restrictions on your quality of life and also carries a risk to life,” says Dr. Sreekanth.


Doctor’s Advice: Regular medications are a must. Repeat heart attacks and strokes must be prevented to limit risk of death and disability. A multidisciplinary team approach is often required - educating the caretakers and family members must form an essential part of the care process.


Post-menopausal Women …


Pre-menopausal women are protected against heart disease because of their hormonal milieu (although diabetic women tend to lose this protection). Post-menopause, the risk of heart disease in women gradually approaches that of men (of equivalent age).


All the measures that are recommended for men are applicable for women post-menopause.  “Unfortunately, the risk of death and disability from heart disease is more prevalent among women because of delayed diagnosis and social biases,” says Dr. Sreekanth.


Doctor’s Advice: While talking care of your family’s needs, don’t forget your health needs. And seek medical help immediately - don’t ignore the symptoms.


Heart disease is India’s No. 1 killer, accounting for over 23% of all deaths in the country. Be aware and beware!


- Rahul Lahkar, Saralhealth Bureau, Bangalore

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