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L.Srikumar Pai
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Dos and don’ts for keeping heart diseases at bay
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By Hasan Kamoonpuri - Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in several countries. In Oman, the trend in cardiovascular diseases is upwards.

One reason for the adverse trend is lack of commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Our lifestyle is not only our best defence against heart disease and stroke, it's also our responsibility. A heart-healthy lifestyle can help reduce all of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Lifestyle changes are necessary for putting an end to heart problems. Some of the dos and don’ts are here:
Stop smoking: If you smoke, quit. If someone in your family smokes, encourage them to quit. It is one of the leading causes of heart disease.

Choose good nutrition: A healthy diet is one of the best means to avoid cardiovascular diseases. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods.

A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fibre foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key. And to maintain a healthy weight, co-ordinate your diet with your physical activity level so you're using up as many calories as you take in.
Reduce blood cholesterol: Fat lodged in one’s arteries is a disaster waiting to happen. Sooner or later it could trigger a heart attack or stroke. You need to reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don't get those numbers down, then medication may be the key.

Be physically active every day:
Be physically active every day. Research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity everyday can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to suffer from heart disease than those with a low fitness level.

Aim for a healthy weight: Obesity is a growing problem in Oman. Good nutrition, controlling calorie intake and physical activity are the only way to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Manage diabetes:
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to a variety of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity.

Reduce stress: There is relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person's life that may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would. Research has even shown that stress reaction in young adults predicts middle-age blood pressure risk.

Alcohol, the root cause of many evils: Alcohol can raise blood pressure and lead to heart failure or stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, produce irregular heartbeats and affect cancer and other diseases. It contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. Getting your body in shape through physical activity and healthier eating will help reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing your unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) and lowering your risk of diabetes and obesity.

Avoid carbonated drinks: Carbonated soft drinks are not good for health. That’s the reason Oman has launched Healthy Lifestyle Programmes in several places including Nizwa, Wadi Ma'awel, Sur, Qalhat, Muscat, Sohar, Salalah and Wadi Bani Khalid. These Community Based Initiatives (CBI) are based on an approach that empowers communities to address key health determinants in a holistic and integrated manner with full responsibility and self-reliance.

Drink plenty of water, more than eight glasses a day. Prefer natural fruit juices over synthetic ones. Also, prefer fresh fruits over natural fruit juices.

In spite the fact that Oman has witnessed remarkable improvements in its morbidity and mortality indicators, there are still a number of health conditions that represent challenges to the health system. These include non-communicable diseases such cardiovascular conditions.

Sedentary lifestyle
Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases. Generally speaking obesity/overweight is associated with an increase in affluence, and women are found to be more susceptible to it. But in Oman obesity has shown an increasing trend among Omani adult men and a decreasing trend among women
Also, according to a recent GCC-based medical journal, Oman is at the lowest rung among GCC countries in that the prevalence of obesity stands at 11 per cent in Oman as against 23 per cent in Qatar, 28 per cent in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, 32 per cent in the UAE and 41 per cent in Kuwait. But this should be no reason for complacency.

Obesity can be modified through healthy eating habits and regular physical activity. A recent analysis of the Income and Expenditure Survey showed that the percentage of calories derived from fat, among Omanis, was 49 per cent, whereas 22 per cent of the calories were obtained from carbohydrates. Similarly, 19 per cent of the calories are obtained from meat and eggs, 4 per cent from fruits, 5 per cent from milk, and sadly just one per cent from vegetables. Combine this with sedentary lifestyle and the lack of physical activity and you have a good case for a rise in cardiovascular diseases.

Given the socio-economic transition that Oman is going through, it appears that a sedentary lifestyle has become the norm for a large percentage of the population. In the Nizwa Healthy Lifestyle project, it was found that only 28 per cent (6 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men) reported being active during working hours and nearly 60 per cent (72.2 per cent women and 47.5 per cent of men) reported not engaging in any physical activity during leisure time.

Health is wealth
An aware and awakened person always takes good care of his/her health not only because health is wealth and good health provides the foundation for a good life but also because one of our key responsibilities is to keep our body, soul and mind in good shape and feeling. A good mind needs a good body to live in and a good soul needs a good body and heart to be housed in.


 Articles By Hassan Kamoonpuri
Dos and don’ts for keeping heart diseases at bay
The Haj and its global goals

Scenic wonders of Yeti, Oman
Ramadhan enhances God-consciousness
Fasting is gateway to positive health benefits
Ramadhan reinforces culture of charity
Balanced diet helps maximise fasting benefits
Fasting reduces stress and makes mind calm
Beware of summer skin problems
Oman:  Ras al Hadd beckons tourists
Miracles of the glorious Quran
Muslim Children look forward to Qaranqasho
Making the most of Ramadhan fasting
Salah cements unity and love in society
Fasting promotes healing, well-being

Ramadhan: Drinking plenty of water essential

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