Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year. That’s a third of all deaths and half of all non-communicable disease related deaths. Around 80 percent of these deaths are in low and middle income countries where human and financial resources are least able to address the CVD burden. CVD contributes to poverty, particularly in low and middle income countries, due to massive health spending and high out of pocket expenditure.
Some of the most dangerous risk factors leading to the heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure, high level of bad cholesterol and glucose, smoking habit, inadequate intake of diet, fruit and vegetables, increased weight, and obesity. According to the World Heart Federation, at least 80 percent of the premature deaths (because of cardiovascular diseases) can be protected by controlling four main risk factors. This includes unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and use of alcohol.
A healthy diet helps protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as no communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Energy intake (calories) should be in balance with energy expenditure. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Choose variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils.
Evidence indicates that total fat should not exceed 30 percent of total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain. Intake of saturated fats should be less than 10 percent of total energy intake and trans-fats to less than 1 percent of total energy intake.
Keeping salt intake to less than 5 gram per day helps prevent hypertension and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in the adult population.
Regular physical activity can help to maintain body weight, blood glucose, blood cholesterol, blood pressure as well as healthy heart. At least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or an equal combination of both in each week.
Quitting smoking is the single best thing for your heart health. Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke kill 6 million people a year and are estimated to cause nearly 10 percent of CVD. Within two years of stopping smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease is substantially reduced. Within 15 years the risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker. Stop alcohol intake. It is also beneficial for your our heart and overall health.

Dr A Hasnat Shaheen
Consultant, Diabetes & Endocrinology Department,