Dr Muhammed Shaloob
Dr Muhamed Shaloob, Specialist Cardiologist, JTS Medical Centre Image Credit: Supplied

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world, but it’s also one of the most preventable. The good news is that there are many modifiable cardiac factors to lower the risk of heart disease. A large number of UAE residents are from South Asia. Many studies have shown that in South Asians, coronary artery disease events are seen a decade earlier than in their western counterparts, that is, in the age of 40-50 years, which is the most productive age. An alarming trend we are increasingly seeing is heart attacks in the younger population of 30-40 years, and the sad truth is many of these cardiac events are preventable. For that, there is a need for everyone to know about the causes, symptom and risk factors for heart disease. Knowing these can help you prevent future heart attacks.

The most common heart attack risk factors are smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress, family history, age, gender, race, sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, stress and alcohol consumption.

So, finding out whether you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia and maintaining the mentioned factors under control or within normal limits under the guidance of your consulting physician is an important step in preventing heart attack.

A myth among the public is that if you start a medicine for the above-mentioned conditions, you may have to take it for life, so you may consider avoiding it, but the truth is that you have to keep your values below a certain level with medication or diet and exercise to prevent a cardiac event. If your blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg, your doctor may recommend medication when your lifestyle changes, diet or exercise are not helping to reduce your blood pressure.

Follow lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption to control the risk factors. Include a healthy diet rich in fibre and low in saturated fat. If you are overweight or obese, losing just 5 per cent of your body weight can be an effective way to lower the risk. You should also exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.

And it is crucial to understand whether your heart is fit to undergo strenuous exercise. For that a cardiac evaluation by echocardiogram (to understand whether structurally your heart is normal) and stress test by treadmill (to look for any significant block of more than 70 per cent in a blood vessel) can be done by your cardiologist.