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This World Heart Day – Learn How Digital Health Can Help Manage Cardiovascular Diseases!

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Your heart is toiling away indefatigably to supply all parts of your body with oxygen-rich blood so that they can function properly. But did you know that your heart is under a lot of stress? Most of us are not showering this organ with enough love.

That is why, during the past 30 years, the number of deaths and disabilities triggered by cardiac issues has been rising steadily. In 2019, 1 out of every 3 deaths was due to some cardiac complication. 

Factors affecting Heart health

Several factors lead to the steady worsening of heart health. People of South Asia are genetically predisposed towards heart disorders. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, unhealthy eating habits, alcoholism, lack of exercise, increase the risk of the onset of heart problems.

Despite the rising threat of heart disorders, people should know that there are ways to prevent and successfully manage heart conditions and they can go on to live full and healthy lives. World Heart Foundation organizes World Heart Day every year on 29th September to create awareness on heart diseases and encourage healthy living across the globe.

This year, the focus is on digital health and how it can enforce the prevention and management of cardiovascular illnesses. 

What is digital health?

One of the greatest boons of technology and science is how it can be utilized to treat, cure and manage illnesses. Digital health is the newest offering of science. It refers to technological tools such as wearable devices, implants, mobile health apps, and health information technology and even AI and machine language that help doctors, patients and regular people track their health, tele-consult and understand what needs to be done to keep themselves safe from life-threatening diseases.

Digital health for improved cardiovascular health

The scientific community and tech giants have joined hands in revolutionizing cardiovascular medicine. Here are a few ways, digital health is taking diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease to new heights-

  • Premier diagnostic centres are feeding Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics programs into their computers and ECG machines to process data with unerring accuracy and not only detect any complications in the cardiovascular system but also to correctly foretell the possibility of future complications.
  • AI can remove the chances of human errors.
  • Digital health has made great strides in helping babies with heart disorders. A medical device has recently been launched that can be implanted in even newborns through a minimally invasive procedure to manage patent ductus arteriosus. 
  • Similarly, digital health is ensuring that heart corrective surgeries can be done with as little invasion as possible. A recent invention called the clip delivery device can repair mitral valves that are leaking that can be implanted with a simple surgery, doing away with the need for open-heart surgery.
  • Irregularities of heart rhythm can now be managed with another digital health device- the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. 
  • Moreover, these devices contain tiny computers that record the function of your heart which can be read by your healthcare provider to keep tabs on your heart health.
  • Digital tracking devices such as oximeters or smartwatches are a great way for everyday monitoring heart health. This World Heart Day, get yourself or your loved ones a digital device for monitoring your health parameters, to prevent the risk of any heart disorder due to negligence. Such devices monitor your heart rhythm, physical activity and pulse rate. If anything is out of the ordinary, such as a sudden rapid rise in heart rate, the device will send an alert. Based on that, you will be able to take rapid action. 
  • Digital tracking devices come with mobile applications that help you understand the health of your heart. The app will give you detailed information on how your heart has functioned throughout the day and provide suggestions on how to improve your heart health based on the parameters you have set.

The need for getting tested regularly

The only way that digital health can successfully prevent escalating heart disorders is if it is paired with cardiac testing. Blood sugar and blood pressure can be measured at home with the help of devices like Glucometers and digital B.P. monitoring devices. 

Cardiac testing includes blood tests that analyse certain cardiac markers such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels, ECG and few other tests to see if your heart rhythm is normal and there are no blockages in the valves. The blood tests can be easily booked from the comfort of your home and just a few other tests require you to visit the hospital. Telehealth has a great role to play when people are hesitant to step out during this pandemic. 

This World Heart Day, 2021, book these tests for your family. 

Lifestyle changes for better cardiac health

This World Heart Day, you must promise yourself to start living a healthier life and convince your loved ones to do the same. The World Heart Day also spreads awareness regarding simple things we can do to keep our hearts functioning well-

  • Exercise 5 times a week. Certain exercises are especially good for your heart and arterial system. Jogging, fast-paced yoga, jumping rope, brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing increase blood supply to the heart and the rest of your body. They help burn calories and ensure that bad cholesterol does not deposit in your arteries. Exercise can keep blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels in check.
  • Some foods are particularly good for your heart such as leafy green vegetables, avocados, dark chocolate, walnuts, fatty fishes like salmon, berries and whole grains. Avoid fried foods, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, it will be best if you can quit.
  • To combat stress, start practising yoga and breathing exercises. Surround yourself with people who are your well-wishers and shower some self-love on yourself.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle- stay active, maintain a good sleep routine, get routine health check-ups and stay happy.
  • If you have been diagnosed with heart disorders or undergone a procedure, take the medication that has been prescribed to you, and go for regular follow-ups.

Digital health is marching towards making more effective cardiac care available. Various devices to track and monitor your health parameters, home collection of samples for lab tests and teleconsultation have made healthcare more accessible even during the difficult times of this Pandemic. It is also important to understand that along with the digitalisation and ease of access, one should not forget the incomparable benefits of in-person consultation and clinical examination by a doctor.

We should be aware of and use both modes of healthcare as per needs. For eg. an emergency like a stroke or heart attack needs an immediate visit to the nearest hospital and not a tele-consult. At the same time, the onus is on every individual to do the little things required to ward off heart diseases. Promise yourself to commit to one heart-healthy habit on this world heart day.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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