This Sept. 29 (Tuesday) is the 29th year of the “World Heart Day” with the chosen theme “Use Heart to Beat Heartbreak” by the World Heart Federation (WHF) and the World Health Organisation.
Three cardiologists in the UAE interpreted the theme as the encouragement to a “heart healthy life.”
They were Aster Hospital (Mankhool, Dubai) specialist cardiologist Dr. Sachin Upadhyaya, Lifecare Hospital (Musaffah, Abu Dhabi) medical director and specialist cardiologist Dr. Sekhar Sankar Warriar and Thumbay Hospital (Fujairah) consultant cardiologist Dr. Abdul Rahman Aboobakar.
They said a “heart healthy life” is being conscious and embracing of positivity; healthy food particularly diet with less fat, less salt, less sugar, rich in fruits and vegetables; 20-minute swimming at least five times a week; 30-minute physical exercises and walking every day; quitting tobacco and opting for a stress-free environment.
They were asked of their experiences with patients in relation to the coronavirus. Written in the website of the Switzerland-based global health non-government organisation WHF: “In the time of COVID-19, taking care of your heart is more important than ever before.”
WHF believes that heart health is a “fundamental human right and a crucial element of global health justice.” Its 2020 data reveals 17.9 million deaths due to cardiovascular diseases every year worldwide; one in 10 between the ages of 30 and 70; while 31 per cent of deaths are CVD-caused.
On the heart healthy life, Upadhyaya emphasised sensitivity, responsibility and compassion even to the underprivileged: “If the heart is healthy, it is strong and safe from COVID-19. We must be part of the awareness campaign regarding heart healthy life because the heart, while the most vital to survival, is the organ whose response to situations and circumstances are felt by and perceived by our mind and body. It is the most sensitive and responsive organ. We must be (extra careful) with it.”
Warriar said a heart healthy life “is using our understanding, influence and compassion to save (not only our loved ones and ourselves but the society in general) from diseases, by way of well-conceptualised policies concretised by the wilful implementation of strategies, and backed by a fully supported health workforce. It is gratitude, emotional support and awareness.”
Aboobakar said: “It is involvement in organisations, (unfailing) support to your heart patients and (lifestyle modifications).”
Warriar and Aboobakar echoed the WHF observation that at a higher risk for COVID-19 are the elderly, specifically the over-60, the CVDs-afflicted, and the diabetics. Warriar said these must have a steady supply of their medications.
Aboobakar said Thumbay Hospital in Fujairah is not a COVID-19 Centre. Yet, COVID-19 survivors have gone there for assistance. One is an Indian office worker, 55, who subsequently was stricken with myocarditis, “the muscle inflammation and disease due to infection by the virus.”
“Fortunately, the patient is recovering,” he said, further explaining that the mysterious SARS-CoV2 virus also attacks people “with normal hearts” who, apart from myocarditis, may also be ill with “changes in the heart rhythm called arrythmias, which, when it worsens, kills.
Aboobakar claimed that another rare complication of COVID-19 in severe cases is “Stent Thrombosis or Stent Clot.” This happens when the stent or spring used in the surgical procedure of angioplasty to address coronary artery disease, is blocked with a clot.
Upadhyaya said the initial reaction of heart patients at the Aster Hospital in Mankhool to the pandemic was preference to telemedicine as they wanted to understand COVID-19 and the precautionary measures: “They were scared or conscious of contracting the virus. They wanted to know how to minimise the risks. They do not want to ignore their condition; want due attention and evaluation of heart-related symptoms. The hypertensives are concerned about using angiotensin receptor blockers which leading international agencies recommended as safe to use; without evidence it increases the risk of COVID-19.”