New Delhi | Niharika Sanjeeiv: The heart is one of the most important organs of the human body as it carries oxygen and all other important nutrients. Thus to make people aware of diseases related to the heart, World Heart Day is observed on September 29.

So as the people across the globe observe World Heart Day, we at Jagran English exclusively spoke to Dr Vineet Malik, MD, DM Cardiology (AIIMS), Gold Medallist and Sr Cardiologist, Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Punjabi Bagh, Delhi, to shed more light on the risk factors of heart diseases.

Here is an excerpt from the interview

Question: On World Heart Day, what suggestions do you want to give to the young generation so that they can keep their heart-healthy?

Dr Vineet Malik: The young generation should at least spare 30 minutes to 1 hour daily for their health. Also, one should include a 30 to 40 minutes brisk walk in the daily routine. However, one should avoid junk and fried food and too many calories to not gain weight. Also, refrain from smoking and drinking.

Question: What are the greatest risk factors associated with heart diseases?

Dr Vineet Malik: Risk factors for heart disease are either non-modifiable, that is, age, ethnic background and positive families of your heart disease. Or modifiable, which are under your control like smoking hypertension, diabetes, stress, obesity, physical inactivity, dietary habits and high cholesterol level.

Question: What dietary changes can be made to reduce the risk of heart disease?

Dr Vineet Malik: To reduce the risk of heart diseases, one should avoid junk and fried food. Also, intake of calories in form of simple sugar because they are stripped of fibre and nutrients, for example, pizza, pasta, white bread, white rice, white flour, sweets, pastries and ice cream. Diet should be in form of complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, oatmeals and whole bread.

Question: What is the difference between heartburn or a heart attack? How should one identify it?

Dr Vineet Malik: Sometimes, it is very difficult clinically to differentiate between a heart attack and heartburn. Usually, a heart attack is more severe and radiates to the arms causing shortness of breath and sweating. The pain increases on the exertion. Moreover, if one has any risk factors for heart disease, like family history, high cholesterol level or obesity then, it's better to consult a specialist, who may order some tests depending on the need like ECG, Echocardiography or stress test to differentiate between heartburn or heart attack.

Question: What are some of the effective ways to manage cholesterol?

Dr Vineet Malik: Ways to manage cholesterol is through diet and exercise. Diet include avoiding junk and fried food, simple sugar intake, and eat more vegetables, whole grains, etc. If still cholesterol is not controlled then, the patient should consult a doctor and switch to drugs in form of statins.

Question: How does obesity contribute to heart disease?

Dr Vineet Malik: Obesity is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Obese people are more likely to have high blood pressure, high sugar levels, less physical activity, high chances of sleep apnea and high chances of heart failure. Moreover, obesity also causes an increase in vascular inflammation, which contributes to a heart attack.

Posted By: Niharika Sanjeeiv