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Are You Treating Your Body Well? 

By Sudesh Shet 

Lifestyle, as the name suggests, is a way of living used by people, groups and  nations which are in specific geographical, economic, political, cultural and  religious texts. It refers to the characteristics of inhabitants of a region  in a special time and place. It includes day to day behaviours and functions of  working/non-working individuals, activities, fun and diet. 

In recent years, lifestyle as a vital factor of healthy living has caught the  eye of many researchers and universities. According to WHO, 60% health  related issues and quality of food are correlated to lifestyle. Millions of  people follow an unhealthy lifestyle, most of the time due to unintentional  circumstances occurring at the workplace or their respective lives. Hence,  they encounter illness, disorders and when overlooked to a great extent,  even death. Problems like metabolic dysfunction, joint and skeletal issues,  cardio-vascular disorders, hypertension, obesity, depression and so on, can  be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. The relationship of lifestyle and health  go hand in hand; hence both carry the same significance to lead a better  living. 

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Today, vast changes have occurred in the lives of many people around the  globe which is a matter of serious concern. Malnutrition, unhealthy diet,  smoking, alcohol consumption, medicinal and narcotic drug abuse, mental  and physical stress, are the presentations of unhealthy lifestyles that are  dominating the world right now. Besides, people of all age groups are faced  with new challenges on a day-to-day basis. For instance, emerging new  technologies within IT such as the internet and virtual networks, lead our  world to a dangerous point that threatens the physical and mental health of  individuals. The challenge is the overuse or rather misuse of the technology. 

Therefore, according to the existing studies, it can be said that: lifestyle has  a significant influence on physical and mental health of a person. There are  different forms of such influences. Consanguinity in some ethnicities is a  dominant form of lifestyle that leads to genetic disorders.  Reformation of this unhealthy lifestyle is a preventing factor for decreasing  the rate of genetic diseases. In some countries, the overuse of drugs is a  major unhealthy lifestyle. Iran is one of the 20 countries using the most medications. They prefer medication to other forms of medical  intervention. Furthermore, in 15–40% cases they use medications without appropriate prescription or consultation. Pain relievers, eye drops and  antibiotics have the most usage in Iran. While self-medications such as  antibiotics have a negative effect on the immune system, if an individual  would be affected by infection, antibiotics will not be effective in treatment.  Overall, 10 percent of those who are self-medicated will experience severe  complications such as drug resistance. Sometimes drug allergy is so severe  that it can cause death. 

Characteristics of Heart Disease 

Heart disease results from the narrowing of the arteries that supply the  heart with blood through a process known as atherosclerosis. Fatty  deposits (or plaque) gradually build up on the inside of the artery walls,  narrowing the space of blood flow to the heart. Atherosclerosis can start developing at a young age itself, so by the time one’s age progresses, it advances accordingly. 

Plaque build-up in the arteries (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Plaque build-up can be considered as stable or unstable. If there is too  much build-up of stable plaque, it narrows the arteries, causing pain and  discomfort due to not enough blood reaching the heart – this is called angina and it needs to be treated. 

Unstable plaque is inflamed and has a thin cap which is prone to developing  a crack, allowing the blood to come in contact with the fatty contents of the  plaque. The blood will clot to try to seal the gap but in doing so, the blood clot blocks the artery. This prevents the flow of blood to the heart, cuts off its oxygen supply and damages or kills the heart cells. This condition when it occurs is commonly called a heart attack

Narrowing of the arteries due to build-up of plaque (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Blood Pressure and Salt (Sodium) 

A diet high in salt is linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), which  can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Most of us consume  more than 10 times the amount of salt we need to meet our sodium requirements (salt contains sodium and chloride). 

Most of the sodium in our diet is not from added salt at the table, but  from packaged and processed foods. Even sweet foods and those that  don’t taste ‘salty’ can have much more sodium than you’d expect.

How to reduce your risk of heart disease with healthy eating?

  • Increase the amount and variety of plant-based foods – eat more  vegetables, fruits and wholegrain cereals. 
  • Limit fried fast food and processed foods. 
  • Reduce your salt intake – avoid packaged foodstuffs, limit foods rich in preservatives. Reduce the usage of salt and substitute it with herbs  and mild spices for flavour. 
  • If you drink alcohol, restrict to no more than 2 standard drinks on  any given day. A high alcohol intake increases blood pressure and can  increase triglycerides in the blood. 
  • Trim all visible fat from meat and remove skin from poultry. 
  • If you have elevated cholesterol levels, switch to low-fat or non-fat  dairy products and have no more than 7 eggs per week. 

Variables of lifestyle that influence health are categorized by the following: 

Diet and Body Mass Index (BMI): Diet is the greatest factor in  lifestyle and has a direct and positive relation with health. Poor diet  and its consequences like obesity is a common health problem in  urban society. Unhealthy lifestyle can be measured by BMI. Urban  lifestyle leads to the nutrition problems like consuming fast food and  items prepared using an enhancer like MSG (monosodium glutamate or commonly known as China salt) 

Exercise: For tackling general health issues, physical exercise is  included for robust living. A steady, continuous physical regime along  with a healthy diet can have amazing results on one’s body and mind.  Some studies have proven the existence of a correlation between one’s  active lifestyle and individual happiness quotient. 

Sleep: One of the basics of a healthy lifestyle is sleep. Disorders due  to lack of sleep have several social, psychological and economical  consequences. One of the best solutions to reducing one’s health  related problems and risks is getting an ample amount of sleep.

Sexual activity: Just like our every other bodily need, Sex plays an  important role in our physical and mental fitness. While it does play a  vital role, sexual activity is also influenced highly by usual individual  habits. Any sort of substance or liquor addiction, improper diet, lack  of sleep ends up diminishing one’s libido. 

Substance abuse: Addiction has been considered as a major threat to  human life since decades now. Smoking and consumption of other  substances may result in various life-threatening problems; emphysema, asthma, cancer, brain hemorrhage, tumor development. According to the recent studies in Iran, 43% of females  and 64% of males experience the use of hubble-bubble. A  longitudinal study shows that 30% of people between 18–65 years  old smoke cigarettes permanently. 

Medication abuse: It is a common form of using medication and it is  considered as a threat to general physical health. Unethical behaviour  in using medication is self-treatment, sharing medication, using medications without prescription, prescribing too many drugs,  prescribing the large number of each drug, unnecessary dosage, bad  handwriting in prescription, disregard to the contradictory  medication, harmful side effects, improper or misguided explanation  of a particular drug and it’s consumption. 

Application of modern technologies: Advanced technology  facilitates the life of humans. Misuse of technology may result in  unpleasant consequences. For example, use of computers and other devices beyond sleep hours, may affect and disturb the body  clock and its sleep cycle. Addiction to using a mobile phone is related to  depression causing symptoms. 

Recreation: Leisure pass time is a sub factor of lifestyle. Neglecting  leisure can bring negative consequences on one’s mental health. With  disorganized planning and mismanagement of time, people devoid  their lives from the basic happiness and satisfaction derived from  leisure activity.

Sudesh Shet,
Cardiovascular Technologist

How Can You Detect Heart Problems At Earlier Stages? 

1. Consult your cardiologist 

2. Get an Echocardiography done every 3 months 

3. Do a TMT test after every 3 months 

(This article has been authored by Sudesh Shet, a Consultant Cardiovascular Technologist currently interning at Asilo District Hospital, Mapusa)

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