Adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle to grow old healthy

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People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live a longer and a healthier life free of all types of morbidity, according to a 40-Year Follow-Up of the CHA Study (Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry) reported in the journal Circulation.

The study included both men and women aged 18 to 74 years, who were classified into 1 of 4 strata of cardiovascular health: favorable levels of all factors, 0 factors high but ≥1 elevated risk factors, 1 high risk factor and ≥2 high risk factors, which included blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, body mass index and smoking.

Only 6% had favorable levels of all factors, while 35% had ≥2 high risk factors, 19% had ≥1 risk factors at elevated levels and 40% had 1 high risk factor.

Comparing to the study participants who had ≥2 high-risk factors in middle age, those with all favorable factors lived an average of 3.9 years longer, survived 4.5 years longer before developing a chronic illness, spent 22% fewer of their senior years with a chronic illness and saved almost $18,000 in Medicare costs. When only heart disease was examined, those with all favorable risk factors lived 6.9 years longer without heart disease and also spent 46.5% fewer of their senior years with heart disease.

The very small percentage of participant with favourable factors reiterates the need to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle to have a healthy heart and this should begin early on in life.

As doctors, it falls upon us to educate our patients and make them aware of ways to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce the burden of disease in older age.

I teach my patients the Formula of 80 to live up to the age of 80 years.

• Keep lower blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) ‘bad’ cholesterol, fasting sugar, resting heart rate and abdominal girth all below 80.
• Keep kidney and lung functions >80%.
• Engage in recommended amounts of physical activity (minimum 80 min of moderately strenuous exercise per week). Walk 80 min a day, brisk walk 80 min/week with a speed of at least 80 steps per min.
• Eat less and not >80 gm or mL of caloric food each meal.
• Observe cereal fast 80 days a year.
• Do 80 cycles of parasympathetic breathing (pranayama) a day with a speed of 4/min.
• Do not smoke or be ready to spend Rs 80,000/- for treatment.
• Those who drink but do not want to stop and there is no contraindication, limit alcohol intake to no >80 mL/day for men (50% for women) or 80 gm/week. 10 gm of alcohol is present in 30 mL or 1 oz of 80 proof liquor.
• Do not take >80 mL of soft drink at one go (dilute it to 200 mL by adding soda).
• Take 80 mg of aspirin, if prescribed, for prevention.
• Take 80 mg atorvastatin for prevention, when prescribed.
• Keep noise levels below 80 dB.
• Keep particulate matter PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels below 80 mcg per cubic meter.
• Expose yourself 80 days in a year in sunlight to get vitamin D.
• Achieve 80% of target heart rate when doing heart conditioning exercise.
• Get 80% immunity by taking Flu and pneumonia vaccine.

(Source: AHA News Release, May 1, 2017)

Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA & HCFI