September 24 is World Heart Day. Make it your day to begin a longer, more healthy life.
Controlling major risk factors such as physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet and tobacco use could prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke and help keep the heart healthy. This is why this year’s World Heart Day campaign asks: “How Young is Your Heart?”
World Heart Day is run by the World Heart Federation’s member organizations in more than 100 countries. Activities on the day include health checks, walks, runs, jump rope, fitness sessions, public talks, stage shows, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts and sports tournaments.
“Heart disease and stroke is the world’s largest killer, claiming 17.5 million lives a year . Eighty per cent of these lives are from populations in low- and middle-income countries, many amongst people of working age” said Professor Sidney Smith, University of North Carolina and Chairman Scientific Advisory Board, World Heart Federation.
Physical activity is vitally important to maintain a healthy heart. Running for one hour or more each week could reduce the risk of heart disease by 42% . A brisk walking of 30 minutes each day has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease by about 18% and stroke by about 11%
A balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, lean meat, fish and pulses, alongside low-fat and fat-free products. Unsaturated soft margarines and oils such as sunflower, corn, rape-seed and olive oil are preferred to saturated fats.
Tobacco use is one of the most important risk factors to control. Quitting will help to keep the heart young as it helps maintain “good” cholesterol levels, reduces the levels of blood clotting and overall, decreases the chance of a sudden blockage of a blood vessel. According to the Framingham Heart Study, life duration is substantially shortened by tobacco users. Non-smokers may live about 8 years longer than smokers.