When we talk about heart health, we often imagine older people. Studies, unfortunately, show that Indians are at risk of heart disease at least a decade earlier than their Western counterparts. This means that there is an increasing prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people as young as 30 years old. India already accounts for a fifth of the world’s deaths from cardiovascular diseases. And this is also reflected in the younger population, with an age-standardized death rate of 272 per 1,00,000 population compared to the global average of 235.
This increased risk of heart disease in young Indians is due to a combination of hereditary genes as well as environmental factors. Unfortunately, these environmental factors only compounded the risk over time. Working long hours, often in stressful jobs and sleeping less has become the new norm in our lives. Modern work setups involve sitting still and not exercising, which can nearly double the risk of poor heart health.
A study conducted by Saffolalife in 2019 indicates that 58% of inhabitants of large cities, aged 30 to 40, who do not exercise regularly, are at higher risk of heart disease. Despite this, 92% of them do not consider lack of exercise as one of the three main risk factors for heart disease. This lack of awareness further compounds the problem.
Among young people, we are seeing a growing awareness of the importance of food in maintaining good health. But the reality is also that after a long and tiring day, it has often become easier to order and give in to unhealthy food cravings. With less exercise and eating junk food frequently, there is an increased risk of belly fat, which is another major risk factor for heart disease.
Fortunately, there is good news. Taking care of your heart is not difficult. Once you know the risk factors, you can take the right steps to reduce their impact. Making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can really make a difference. The most important thing, however, is to be proactive; the changes we make in our 30s and 40s can go a long way in keeping our heart healthy.
In your 30s, it’s a good idea to have your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and general health checked annually. This can allow you to be aware of symptoms earlier and corrective action can be taken immediately. Develop healthy lifestyle habits like brisk walking for about 20 minutes a day, at least three times a week. Try to take breaks between work hours for deep breathing exercises. Control stress with exercise and yoga, rather than emotional/stressed eating or staying up late and binge-watching. Make simple and easy changes to your diet, like eating a serving of raw fruits and vegetables during snack time each day. Try to include heart-healthy ingredients like nuts, green leafy vegetables, avocados, and oats. Using a heart-healthy oil can also be a great and easy change you can make.
Remember that good lifestyle habits developed early can help reduce heart risk. So make heart health a priority today.