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Better heart care using the power of digital health

By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 28 September 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to value the health of our own and loved ones more than ever. High infection rates, the dramatic increase in deaths, and the overwhelmed hospitals during the second wave of the pandemic has instilled a sense of anxiety and fear in people. Furthermore, the pandemic has been extremely difficult for people suffering from critical illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases (CVD), which include heart conditions.

Since the Coronavirus is known to have a damaging effect on the heart and cardiovascular diseases remain to be the leading cause of death globally, caring for the heart has become even more significant.

About World Heart Day 2021

Every year, 29th September is observed as World Heart Day, with the aim of educating people about cardiovascular conditions such as heart diseases and stroke. The annual event is organised by the World Heart Federation, with the first event held in the year 2000. The theme of World Heart Day 2021 is “Use heart to connect” with a goal to explore innovative ways to use digital health to improve awareness, prevention and management of CVD across the globe.

Role of digital health in maintaining heart health during COVID-19 pandemic

Several studies have shown that people suffering from heart diseases are at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 infection; making it difficult for them to access medical care at the hospitals. However, telemedicine and digital tools have enabled doctors to manage the treatment of heart patients while limiting their exposure to the novel Coronavirus. Telemedicine has given people access to various doctors depending on their health needs.

A report published by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report on World Heart Day 2018 stated that digital health technologies can help tackle cardiovascular diseases by creating new preventive strategies through monitoring tools. These digital tools such as smartwatches and portable monitors (like Holter monitors) can help determine changes in the essential health markers such as blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation levels. These tools can help doctors deliver better and individualised care based on the patient’s lifestyle. 

WHO believes that by 2030, digital technologies would be used in almost half of all patient care situations around the globe. Furthermore, it is believed that they can help reduce CVD-related deaths by 20% within 10 years, through early diagnosis and better treatment.   

Risk factors for heart diseases 

The first step towards preventing heart diseases is to identify the risk factors. Several factors such as an unhealthy lifestyle, increased age, and family history can influence the risk of developing heart diseases. Some other common factors include: 

  • Chronic smoking
  • Exposure to harmful pollutants in the air
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Obesity and overweight. 

Ways to keep heart healthy

Measures that can help strengthen the heart and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases include: 

  • Consuming a healthy and balanced diet, adding green vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, healthy nuts and seeds to the food we eat.
  • Avoiding the consumption of oily, high-fat processed foods such as baked and fried food to maintain the levels of cholesterol.
  • Practising high to moderate-intensity exercises such as brisk walking, riding a bicycle, swimming or dancing for 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week. 
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke. 
  • Avoiding going out of the house early in the morning as the pollution levels are at a peak during those hours. Keep the windows closed during the mornings and evenings. 
  • Limiting the consumption of alcohol to an occasional drink.
  • Reducing the consumption of caffeinated beverages to no more than 400 milligrams per day. 
  • Getting a good amount of sound sleep, typically 7 to 8 hours a day. 
  • Avoiding the intake of cough or congestion medications with pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine as they can trigger palpitations.
  • Monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar levels frequently, and alerting a doctor in case of any significant change. 
  • Getting treated for chronic health conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure, as they can result in irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
  • Consuming heart-healthy supplements such as vitamin B12, omega 3, and fish oil after consulting a doctor. 

Conclusion

According to the WHO, CVDs are the leading cause of death globally, resulting in 17.9 million deaths every year. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain heart health as its diseases can affect a person of any age. Digital health technology can act as an effective tool in preventing critical cardiovascular events. People can buy smart bands or smartwatches to help monitor the health markers associated with heart health such as blood pressure and heart rate. They can also buy medicines and book teleconsultations with a heart specialist on the Apollo 247 app. 

Monitor your blood pressure regularly with the Omron BP Monitor.

You can also explore a range of Omega-3 and 6 supplements, Vitamin B12 supplements, and Arjuna Capsules to boost heart health.

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