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Is it Possible To Reverse Heart Diseases? Dr Dash Explains It All

Heart Health By Vani Malik , Onlymyhealth editorial team / Oct 05, 2019
Is it Possible To Reverse Heart Diseases? Dr Dash Explains It All

If you or someone you know is suffering from a heart ailment, then it is time to act now. A holistic approach to life that includes dietary modifications, stress-free living and an active lifestyle can go a long way in curbing the progress of hear

A heart attack is usually perceived as a disease of the older population, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The latest statistics show that heart attacks are becoming alarmingly frequent in the younger population. Twenty per cent of heart attack cases is seen in a population younger than the age of 40 years. Overall, a heart attack is the most common cause of death in India and accounts for 1 in 4 deaths. However, a remarkable change in trend shows that death due to this condition among the urban population (especially males) have declined. This can be attributed to increasing awareness, better access to healthcare facilities and relatively lower tobacco consumption. 

Being diagnosed with heart disease is not the end of life. Studies show that simple changes in the diet, physical exercise and managing stress levels not only slow down the progress but possibly reverse heart ailments.

Also Read: Know The Protective Role of Curcumin in Cardiovascular Diseases

Understanding Heart Disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) refers to blockage of one or more of the arteries of the heart, which causes an area of the heart to be deprived of crucial blood supply. These blockages often start as small harmless plaques in the arteries. Over a period, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating habits can cause plaque to grow and lead to partial or complete obstruction of blood flow to the heart. 

If the heart artery is partially blocked (Angina), chest pain is precipitated by exertion. Exertion can be due to exercise, hurrying or sexual activities) or even due to stress, anger or frustration. The patient describes the chest pain as heaviness, pressure or choking sensation in the middle of the chest. It can further spread to the left arm or jaw.

If the heart artery is completely blocked, chest pain happens unrelated to physical activity, often within a few hours of getting up in the morning. The symptoms can be sweating, nausea, palpitations, breathlessness and anxiety. Urgent hospitalisation should be done in such cases. 

(* Please note that the symptoms may vary depending on many factors. For example- people with diabetes may not have the typical chest pain during a heart attack and may present with breathlessness instead)

There are many risk factors which predispose an individual to develop a heart attack. Some of them are beyond our control like:

  • Age
  • Ethnic background
  • Family history of heart disease

Some of the risk factors which can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle are:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Being overweight
  • High blood cholesterol

Recent research shows that by bringing in significant changes to one’s lifestyle, blood flow and heart function could be improved to a great extent. Studies showed that a reversal was possible even in case of severe blockages, though the time taken for reversal may be more. 

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Atrial Fibrillation, Its Causes and Treatment

Some of the possible lifestyle modifications include: 

  • Indulging in at least half an hour of exercise per day or an hour thrice a week. 
  • Moderate dietary changes such as cutting down on oil, switching to non-fat dairy or non-dairy alternatives and a healthier oil such as olive oil, eating more fresh produce, whole grains, legumes and lean meats can help reverse the condition to a great extent. 
  • Patients must also cut down on alcohol consumption and processed foods including refined carbs, sugars and excess of salt, and quit tobacco. 
  • Herbal remedies such as regular intake of green tea and juices that are rich in antioxidants are also beneficial. It stabilises blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

While long-term medications may be required in severe cases, regular monitoring and sticking to a healthy diet-cum-exercise plan can bring about dramatic results in less severe conditions. A strict but sustainable lifestyle is essential to control a heart ailment. However, even though complete reversal may not be possible, in most cases, the condition can be kept in check from progressing.

Apart from dietary changes and exercise, managing stress levels is also an important aspect of reversing heart disease. Practising yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques can prove highly beneficial. It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that timely medical attention can be sought. Regular preventive health check-up is an essential step towards preventing and managing heart disease. 

With inputs from Dr Prashant Kumar Dash, Director-Medical Services at Medlife.com

Read more articles on Heart Health

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