Hand on heart, let`s promise to be Heroes

This year, the World Heart Day was all about making a very special promise to ourselves. A promise to replace the unhealthy food that we’ve been gorging on with a more balanced diet; a promise to squeeze just 35 minutes out of our very busy schedule for some brisk exercise; a promise to give up smoking; a promise to think positively and reduce stress in our lives. In short, a promise to love our heart and make it happy.

Above all, a promise to regularly screen our heart to catch any signs of cardiac issues as early as possible.

It’s no secret that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is among world’s biggest killer, yet, often we tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to taking care of our cardiac health. World over, one of the biggest reasons for cardiac fatalities is ignoring the signs of heart attack, such as recurring chest pain, often confusing it with gastric issues. An observational cross-study conducted in Bahrain concurs with the view that most Bahraini residents have little awareness in recognising the symptoms of heart attack. As per the study, 71.9% scored poor on the level of knowledge on identifying the warning signs of heart attack, while only 59 percent knew that first call of action is to contact an emergency service when witnessing a heart attack.

Similarly, screening for cardiac health is often put on back burner as well, despite the fact this one step can offset cardiovascular diseases significantly. In fact so much so, that experts suggest that people as young 20 years old should opt for cardiac screening. We may be ticking all boxes in terms of taking care of our heart through proper diet, exercise and a quality lifestyle in general; however, it still does not guarantee that we’re immune to any cardiac episodes. Moreover, regular screening is also an ideal wake-up call to identify if we’re at risk for heart disease before any signs or symptoms manifest.

Further, by keeping tabs on our blood sugar, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), physical activity and diet we can actually catch any early signs of discrepancy in our heart, for example, a blocked artery, which if treated in time, can save us from any eventuality, such as a heart attack.

So who is eligible for cardiac screening? This is what Dr Prashant Prabhakar, Clinical Cardiology Consultant at Bahrain Specialist Hospital suggests:

“There’s no one answer; a lot depends on factors such as general health condition, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking habit, diabetes and family history. However, I would particularly advise people with a strong family history of cardiac diseases – where blood relations, especially parents have suffered cardiac episodes before turning 60 – should begin their screening at as young as 18 years of age. This is because our metabolism begins to slow down after 18 years, and combined with lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits and in some cases smoking, we become very vulnerable to heart issues”.

Cardiovascular issues are no longer a disease, they are an epidemic. Every year thousands of people are affected by it, and out of those a large number do not have access to treatment converting heart episodes into fatalities. Therefore, the message this year that everyone should focus on should be prevention through lifestyle modification and screening. As the World Heart Federation aptly says: We can all be Heart Heroes.

Happy Heart to One and All.

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