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Alcohol Consumption

Most common question asked: Is wine good for the heart?

Alcohol’s beneficial effects come from raising the good cholesterol (HDL), thinning the blood, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and providing natural antioxidants (flavonoids seen in red grapes). Multiple attempts at providing the key flavonoid – a polyphenol called resveratrol as a dietary supplement have been unsuccessful at providing any benefit. However, drinking pure grape juice does have some benefit although not as much as red wine. This again supports the concept that it is always better to consume the antioxidant rich food or drink rather than any concentrated pill supplement.

Alcohol may also have other benefits such as living longer especially as part of the Mediterranean diet. Alcohol can improve your libido, strengthen your immune system to common colds, reduce gallstones, lower the chances of dementia or diabetes.

 

The American Heart Association states that even though alcohol has beneficial properties if you don’t drink it is NOT recommended to start. Alcohol in excess has many detrimental effects

  •  It can impair judgment and is a leading risk factor for motor vehicle accidents that can result in injury to self or others.

  • It can lead to dependency, alcoholism and social breakdown.

  • Alcohol in excess can raise triglycerides (fats), blood pressure and strokes.

  • While alcohol lowers blood sugar, most alcoholic drinks come with a lot of excess carbohydrates-resulting in the famous beer belly!

  • Excess alcohol can also weaken heart muscle, cause arrhythmias and be toxic to the fetus.

  • If you are taking medications check with your health care professional about potential drug interactions especially with certain blood thinners such as warfarin.

  • Patients with liver disease or pancreatitis must also abstain from alcohol as should pregnant mothers.

 

Alcohol is a part of our societal culture. Used wisely it can be both enjoyable and healthy but like most messages in life- moderation is the key. As the saying goes- please drink responsibly!

Cholesterol

Diabetes

Eat Right

Exercise

Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes all increase the risk of developing heart disease. Thankfully, research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk for all these issues and can therefore, protect against heart disease.

In fact, being fit or active can reduce the risk for heart disease by more than 50%. Even gradual and small increases in physical activity can reduce the risk. Exercise improves overall health and is good for the heart, even for people who are just starting to become more active. Simply brisk walking, for example, is associated with a 30-50% reduction in risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke.

How much exercise do you need?

Recommendations for Adults

  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.

  • add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.

  • spend less time sitting. even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.

  • gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.

  • increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
     

Recommendations for Kids

  • Children 3-5 years old should be physically active and have plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day.

  • Kids 6-17 years old should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate - to vigorous intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic.

  • Include vigorous-intensity activity on at least 3 days per week.

  • Include muscle and bone-strengthening (weight-bearing) activities on at least 3 days per week.

  • Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
     

What kind of exercise should you do?

Don’t worry if you can’t reach 150 minutes per week just yet. Everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you've been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. Set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward the recommended amount by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking keep you from doing what you can every day.

The simplest way to get moving and improve your health is to start walking. It's free, easy and can be done just about anywhere, even in place. Any amount of movement is better than none. And you can break it up into short bouts of activity throughout the day. Taking a brisk walk for five or ten minutes a few times-a-day will add up.

If you have a chronic condition or disability, talk with your healthcare provider about what types and amounts of physical activity are right for you before making too many changes. But don’t wait! Get started today by simply sitting less and moving more, whatever that looks like for you.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities:

  • Brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour).

  • Water aerobics.

  • Dancing (ballroom or social).

  • Gardening

  • tennis (doubles).

  • cycling 10 miles per hour 

Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities:

  • hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack.

  • Running. - swimming laps.

  • aerobic dancing.

  • heavy yard work like continuous digging or hoeing.

  • tennis (singles).

  • cycling 10 miles per hour or faster.

  • jumping rope.
     

Other Benefits of Exercise

Improved mood: Physical activity can help you feel happier and more relaxed. It can also help to boost your confidence and make you feel good about yourself.

More energy: When you exercise, you improve how oxygen and nutrients move around the body. You can help your lungs and your heart work better, which can help you feel more energetic, with better endurance and stamina.

Better sleep: Many studies have shown that regular exercise promotes deeper sleep, and helps you fall asleep faster. A lot of people don’t realize that sleep is a very important component of good health, especially heart health. A condition called sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke
 

How Much Exercise is Needed?

Exercise is important for everyone, no matter what age or gender you are! However, you should exercise according to your personal fitness level and your own personal goals. As a general guideline for adults, at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity is recommended 4-7 days of the week. You can do:

30 minutes or more of at least moderate-intensity exercise

  • Walking, dancing, jogging, gardening, bicycling, etc.

15 minutes of work-related activity

  • Climbing stairs, light lifting, walking around during breaks at work, etc.

15 minutes of muscle strength training exercises

  • Lifting weights, carrying children, doing squats, yoga, etc.
     

Recommendations for Getting Active

  • Brisk walking every day is a great way to start exercising. Find someone who would be interested in joining you for a walk; this could be your spouse, your child, a friend or a neighbour. You can even create a small group of people who go on daily walks together. Most shopping malls also open their doors early so that people can have a safe indoor space to walk. This is a great option if you don’t feel comfortable walking in your neighbourhood.

  • Make it a social activity, not just an exercise routine. If you regularly visit a mosque or temple, ask your friends and fellow community members if they would be interested in organizing group exercising days, or group walks that you can participate in every few days or once every week.

  • Avoid sitting in one place for a long period of time. This often happens at work, when people are at their desks for hours and do not get much movement. Consider setting an alarm on your phone that goes off every 30-40 minutes. This will remind you to take a short break and walk around.
     

  • If you are not a very active person and want to begin exercising, we recommend starting slowly and gradually increasing your physical activity. If you have any chronic health conditions or are unsure if it is safe for you to exercise, consult your doctor and find out which activities are safe for you to do.

  • Try to get the whole family, or multiple family members involved. It can make physical activity more enjoyable and more motivating. It will also teach children healthy habits early.
     

  • Park farther away from your destination so that you’re forced to walk there.
     

  • Take the stairs. If you’re going up an elevator, you can stop one or two flights earlier than you need to and walk up the stairs to your destination.
     

  • Walk to the mailbox instead of driving there. You can even take two or three trips back and forth before you return home.
     

  • If you’re waiting for an appointment at a doctor’s office or anywhere else, ask how long the wait will be and then go for a quick walk around the building.
     

  • While you’re watching TV or talking on the phone, do some exercises while you’re sitting, and especially during commercial breaks. You can stretch, do squats, pace back and forth, do jumping jacks, or air cycle (move your legs in the motion of cycling).
     

  • Keep something on the fridge and near your television to remind you to stay active when you’re waiting or sitting.

Healthy Kids

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major public health concern worldwide, including in South Asian countries. South Asians are known to have a higher prevalence and incidence of CVD, with an earlier age of onset and more severe disease progression compared to other populations. Additionally, the risk factors for CVD in South Asian children are increasing due to changing lifestyles, including physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Inculcating healthy habits in children is crucial for their long-term well-being and can play a significant role in reducing the risk of heart disease. The South Asian community in Canada is particularly susceptible to heart disease, making it even more important to focus on promoting healthy habits in children from a young age. This article aims to provide an overview of strategies for reducing the risk of CVD in South Asian children through prevention and lifestyle modifications.

Prevention

Prevention is the key to reducing the risk of CVD in South Asian children. Primary prevention strategies should focus on identifying and addressing modifiable risk factors early on. These interventions can include:

  • Promotion of breastfeeding, which has been shown to be protective against CVD in later life.

  • Screening for dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity at an early age, and implementing appropriate management strategies if needed.

  • Vaccination against infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia, which have been associated with an increased risk of CVD in later life.
     

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications can play an important role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. These modifications can include:

  • Lead by Example: Children often model their behavior after their parents, so it's important for parents to lead by example when it comes to healthy habits. This means eating a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, and avoiding unhealthy habits like excessive alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.
     

  • Make Healthy Eating Fun: Encouraging children to eat a healthy diet can be a challenge, but it's important to make it fun and engaging. Try incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into meals and involve children in the cooking process. You can also encourage children to try new foods by making it a game or competition.
     

  • Promote Physical Activity: Physical activity is crucial for heart health, and children should be encouraged to engage in physical activity on a daily basis. This can include playing sports, taking walks, or engaging in other forms of physical activity that the child enjoys.

 

  • Limit Screen Time: Excessive screen time has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease. To reduce the risk of heart disease in children, it's important to limit their screen time and encourage them to engage in physical activity and other forms of play instead. Reduce sedentary behavior, such as watching television or playing video games, to less than two hours per day.
     

  • Teach Healthy Habits Early: The earlier children learn healthy habits, the more likely they are to adopt and maintain these habits throughout their lives. Teach children about the importance of eating a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, avoiding unhealthy habits, and encourage them to make these habits a part of their daily routine.

 

The family plays an important role in promoting lifestyle modifications for children, and interventions should involve the whole family. Cultural norms and traditions can also play a role in shaping dietary and lifestyle behaviors in South Asian children. Interventions should, therefore, take into account cultural and social factors that influence dietary and lifestyle behaviors in South Asian children.

CVD is a major public health concern in South Asian countries, and the risk of CVD in South Asian children is increasing due to changing lifestyles. Prevention and lifestyle modifications can play an important role in reducing the risk of CVD in children. Primary prevention strategies should focus on identifying and addressing modifiable risk factors early on, while lifestyle modifications can include promoting physical activity, healthy eating habits, reducing sedentary behavior, and avoiding tobacco use. Family involvement is crucial for successful interventions, and interventions should take into account cultural and social factors that influence dietary and lifestyle behaviors in South Asian children.

Heart Disease

Hypertension

Smoking & Vaping

Every cigarette contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals including nicotine which triggers the body to release adrenaline. This narrows the blood vessels and forces the heart to beat harder.

Smoking damages the blood vessels, reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and makes the heartbeat faster. All these can make the heart condition worse. Smoking can lead to heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung diseases and stomach ulcers.

 

Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and is the single largest cause of death in the United States, killing more than 800,000 people a year. More than 16 million Americans have heart disease. Almost 8 million have had a heart attack and 7 million have had a stroke. Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day may show signs of early CVD. The risk of CVD increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and when smoking continues for many years. Smoking cigarettes with lower levels of tar or nicotine does not reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes heart disease in non-smokers. More than 33,000 non-smokers die every year in the United States from coronary heart disease caused by exposure to second-hand smoke. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also cause heart attacks and strokes in non-smokers.

Passive smokers (people who breathe in other people’s smoke) suffer similar health risks as smokers. If you are a smoker with heart failure, it is important to quit smoking.
 

The benefits of quitting smoking include:

  • Less shortness of breath and cough.

  • Better sense of taste and smell.

  • Improved mood and mental well-being.

  • Reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and cancers.
     

How Smoking Harms The Cardiovascular System

Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the cells that line blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed. This can narrow the blood vessels and can lead to many cardiovascular conditions.

Atherosclerosis

In this condition, arteries narrow and become less flexible, occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the blood form plaque that builds up in the walls of arteries. The opening inside the arteries narrows as plaque builds up, and blood can no longer flow properly to various parts of the body. Smoking increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels.
 

Coronary Heart Disease

This occurs when arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle are narrowed by plaque or blocked by clots. Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries. Blockage from a clot can lead to a heart attack and sudden death.
 

Stroke

Stroke is a loss of brain function caused when blood flow within the brain is interrupted. Strokes can cause permanent brain damage and death. Smoking increases the risk for strokes. Deaths from strokes are more likely among smokers than among former smokers or people who have never smoked.
 

Peripheral Arterial Disease

(PAD) and Peripheral Vascular Disease occur when blood vessels become narrower and the flow of blood to arms, legs, hands and feet is reduced. Cells and tissue are deprived of needed oxygen when blood flow is reduced. In extreme cases, an infected limb must be removed. Smoking is the most common preventable cause of PAD.
 

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

This condition occurs when there is a bulge or weakened area that occurs in the portion of the aorta that is in the abdomen. The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Smoking is a known cause of early damage to the abdominal aorta, which can lead to an aneurysm. A ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is life-threatening; almost all deaths from abdominal aortic aneurysms are caused by smoking. Women smokers have a higher risk of dying from an aortic aneurysm than men who smoke. Autopsies have shown early narrowing of the abdominal aorta in young adults who smoked as adolescents.
 

Is It Too Late to Quit Smoking?

Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels very quickly, but the damage is repaired quickly for most smokers who stop smoking. Even long-time smokers can see rapid health improvements when they quit. Within a year, heart attack risk drops dramatically. Within five years, most smokers cut their risk of stroke to nearly that of a non-smoker. Even a few cigarettes now and then damage the heart, so the only proven strategy to keep your heart safe from the effects of smoking is to quit.
 

Even though we don’t know exactly which smokers will develop CVD from smoking, the best thing all smokers can do for their hearts is to quit. Smokers who quit start to improve their heart health and reduce their risk for CVD immediately. Within a year, the risk of heart attack drops dramatically, and even people who have already had a heart attack can cut their risk of having another if they quit smoking. Within five years of quitting, smokers lower their risk of stroke to about that of a person who has never smoked.

Did you know SANSAR has a smoking cessation program to help smokers quit? 

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Stress Management

Here are some strategies that can help to manage stress for South Asians:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: Mindfulness and meditation are proven stress-management techniques that can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. These practices can be incorporated into daily life by setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on the present moment and clear the mind. Practice mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. These techniques can help to reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing.
     

  • Social Support: Having a strong network of friends and family can provide emotional support and reduce stress. South Asian communities can create social support systems through cultural events, such as festivals and gatherings, which promote community connections. Seek social support from family, friends, and community members. This can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of stress and isolation.
     

  • Time Management: Balancing work, family, and other responsibilities can be stressful. Effective time management can help individuals prioritize tasks, reduce feelings of overwhelm, and increase feelings of control. Prioritize time, and schedule regular breaks for relaxation and self-care activities.

 

  • Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress such as exercise, hobbies, and relaxation techniques. Regular physical activity is a great way to relieve stress and improve cardiovascular health. Exercise releases endorphins that promote feelings of well-being and reduce anxiety. South Asian communities can encourage physical activity through traditional forms of exercise, such as yoga or dance, which are culturally relevant and enjoyable.

 

 

  • Seeking Help: If stress becomes overwhelming, it may be necessary to seek help from a mental health professional. This can involve seeking counseling or therapy or participating in support groups.

Warning Signs

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide, encompassing a range of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. The prevalence of CVD emphasizes the importance of early detection and intervention. By recognizing the warning signs associated with cardiovascular disease, individuals can take proactive steps to mitigate their risk factors and seek timely medical attention. In this article, we will explore the various warning signs and symptoms that should not be ignored, allowing individuals to prioritize their cardiovascular health and potentially save lives.
 

  • Chest Pain and Discomfort

Chest pain or discomfort is often the most widely recognized warning sign of cardiovascular disease. This symptom, known as angina, is characterized by a sensation of pressure, tightness, or heaviness in the chest. It may also manifest as pain radiating to the arm, neck, jaw, or back. While angina can be caused by other factors, such as indigestion or muscle strain, persistent or recurrent chest pain should be taken seriously and evaluated by a healthcare professional.
 

  • Shortness of Breath

Unexplained shortness of breath, particularly during physical activity or while lying flat, can indicate the presence of cardiovascular disease. This symptom occurs when the heart struggles to pump blood efficiently, leading to inadequate oxygen supply to the body's tissues. People experiencing persistent shortness of breath should consult their healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.
 

  • Fatigue & Weakness

Feeling excessively tired or weak, even after minimal exertion, can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease. This fatigue occurs due to compromised blood flow and reduced oxygen delivery to the body's tissues, resulting in a constant feeling of exhaustion. Individuals who experience persistent fatigue should undergo medical assessment to identify potential cardiovascular causes and implement necessary lifestyle changes.
 

  • Palpitations and Irregular Heartbeat

Sensations of a racing, fluttering, or irregular heartbeat, commonly referred to as palpitations, should not be overlooked. While occasional palpitations can be harmless, recurrent episodes or irregular heart rhythms may signify an underlying heart condition. People who experience prolonged or concerning palpitations should consult a healthcare professional to evaluate their cardiovascular health through diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG).
 

  • Dizziness and Fainting

Frequent dizziness or unexplained fainting spells can be indicative of an underlying cardiovascular problem. These symptoms arise when the brain receives an insufficient blood supply, often due to abnormalities in heart rhythm or reduced blood flow. Individuals who experience recurrent dizziness or fainting should seek medical evaluation to identify potential cardiovascular causes and prevent further complications.
 

  • Swelling and Fluid Retention

Unusual swelling, particularly in the ankles, legs, or abdomen, can signify a cardiovascular issue. Fluid retention occurs when the heart fails to pump blood effectively, leading to a buildup of fluid in the body's tissues. This warning sign, often accompanied by weight gain and bloating, should prompt medical assessment to investigate potential heart-related conditions, such as heart failure or heart valve disease.
 

  • High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels are significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Hypertension and high cholesterol often lack noticeable symptoms, which makes regular check-ups and screenings crucial. Monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels helps identify potential cardiovascular risks early on, allowing for appropriate lifestyle modifications and medical interventions to prevent or manage CVD.

 

Conclusion:

Recognizing the warning signs of cardiovascular disease is pivotal in promoting early detection and prompt intervention. Individuals must remain vigilant and proactive in monitoring their health, promptly addressing any persistent or concerning symptoms. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment when experiencing any warning signs associated with cardiovascular.

Weight Mangement

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