World Heart Day 2020: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a leading cause of death in India. On World Heart Day, there is a need to raise awareness about the importance of taking precautions, following medication schedule, and monitoring vitals regularly to avoid complications.Also Read - World Heart Day 2020: Heart Disease Has Marginally Increased by 10 to 20% Compared to Pre-COVID

CVD’s are essentially conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. Those with a family history of the condition, who are obese, are smokers, have comorbidities such as blood pressure and diabetes are more at risk of developing them and must take necessary precautions. Also Read - Heart Disease in Teenagers Linked to Diabetes Exposure in Womb, Reveals Study

People living with heart diseases should be extra vigilant during the Coronavirus pandemic given their low immunity and higher risk of complications. This respiratory disease affects the lungs the most due to which more pressure is exerted on the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to all the organs. This additional pressure can be detrimental for the heart and can lead to complications over time.

It is important for people with heart conditions to take proper precautions. Those above 60 years and with any kind of CVD must practice strict social distancing and other measures such as handwashing and getting timely check-ups done. In case of any unusual symptoms, they must contact a specialist immediately.

Some heart healthy tips follow:

• Keep stress at bay since chronic stress can cause issues like high blood pressure and affect your heart health
• Consume a diet that is low in sodium and sugar and high in lean proteins, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables
• Exercise regularly, up to 30 minutes of light to moderate physical activity is recommended for optimum heart health
• Check your vitals including blood pressure and blood sugar regularly.
• Avoid drinking and quit smoking
• Take all necessary precautions during the current pandemic including maintaining proper hand hygiene and social distancing,

While prevention is ideal, people who develop conditions such as blocked arteries due to atherosclerosis may require a treatment such as angioplasty. It is done to minimize or avoid the damage to the heart muscles as also restore and improve blood flow. In this process, a long, thin tube (catheter) is inserted into the narrowed part of the artery. Later, a thin wire mesh (Stent) mounted on a deflated balloon is passed through the catheter to the narrowed area. The balloon is inflated, compressing the deposits against the artery walls, and leaving expanded stent embedded in the artery.

Nowadays, there are drug-eluting stents which release medication to help heal the stressed arteries post procedure. There are USFDA-approved, drug-eluting stents today, which are well-studied for safe use in patients with complications or those who might have to interrupt medication a month after angioplasty.