“Some things come only with age”, and heart disease is one of those things. As you age, like all other organs in your body, your heart function also starts to reduce bit by bit. With each passing year, age becomes a significant risk factor for heart disorders. One type of heart disorder is ischemic heart disease. Here, with age, there is a build-up of a waxy substance in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries). This leads to narrowing of the inside of the blood vessels. Due to this, less amount of oxygen reaches the heart muscles. The lower the oxygen supply, the higher the risk to your heart.1
Most heart diseases start showing symptoms like swelling in limbs, sleep apnoea, breathlessness or the inability to perform physical activities. Ischemic heart disease may or may not show symptoms. Even individuals who seem to be fit and doing fine may experience unexpected complications. Some people may sense slight chest pain, but some may not even experience any difficulties until they get a heart attack.1,2 As many as 80% of the cases of ischemia occur silently, without chest pain, with up to 68% leading to a heart attack.3 It is known that men above the age of 45 years are at risk of this heart disorder. Post-menopausal women, 45 years and older, are also at a higher risk of ischemic heart disease.1
Stay young at heart
Age is one of those risk factors that you cannot change, but there are always things you can do to reduce your risk of such untimely events. Factors like smoking, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, high cholesterol levels, hypertension and diabetes put you at a higher risk of a sudden ischemic event. You can take control of these factors even if your age, ethnicity or family history isn’t under your control.4
It is never too late for a fresh start
There are several scientific pieces of evidence, which prove that making changes even later in life can lower your risk of a stroke. If you are a smoker, you can still reduce your risk of cardiac arrest significantly by quitting now. People who quit smoking after a stroke reduced their risk of another stroke by 7% as compared to people who continued to smoke as stated by the Yale School of Medicine.5,6
Another detailed review published in the Journal of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition said that incorporating fruits and vegetables in the diet can reduce cholesterol by 5-10%. Such a reduction is directly linked to a decline in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Since food is an essential factor that affects the levels of lipids in the blood, it influences the build-up of the waxy substance in the blood vessels.7
Getting active will also help you to reduce the risk of a heart condition. Join a group activity like a yoga class or an aerobics session. Going out to cycle once in a while or on a Sunday morning is also a great idea. You will not only burn calories but also make friends. Isolation from society has also been listed as one of the risks for stroke.2 To combat all these risk factors, get together with a group of people and go for a trek, quit smoking right away and include some of those colourful veggies in your food.
- Ischemic Heart Disease [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/ischemic-heart-disease.
- Silent ischemia and ischemic heart disease [Internet]. [updated 2015 Jul 31; cited 2019 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/about-heart-attacks/silent-ischemia-and-ischemic-heart-disease.
- D’Antono B, Dupuis G, Arsenault A, Burelle D. Silent ischemia: silent after all? Can J Cardiol. 2008;24(4):285-291. doi:10.1016/s0828-282x(08)70178-8.
- Heart attack risk factors. [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/heart-attack-risk-factors.
- Dinh PC, Schrader LA, Svensson CJ, Margolis KL, Silver B, Luo J. Smoking cessation, weight gain, and risk of stroke among postmenopausal women. Prev Med. 2019 Jan;118:184-190. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.10.018.
- Epstein KA, Viscoli CM, Spence JD, Young LH, Inzucchi SE, Gorman M, et. al. Smoking cessation and outcome after ischemic stroke or TIA. Neurology. 2017 Oct 17;89(16):1723-1729. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004524.
- Alissa EM, Ferns GA. Dietary fruits and vegetables and cardiovascular diseases risk. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;57(9):1950-1962. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1040487.