Diwali, the festival of lights, is all about bursting firecrackers and having lots of sweets. And this year with long holiday scheduled, the fun is much more. As the celebrations are still going on, not just people with respiratory problems and diabetes but also those with heart disease and hypertension need to be careful during this festival. So before we list some simple tips for heart patients to celebrate Diwali this season, it is important to know how Diwali can impair your heart health.
How Diwali Can Harm Your Heart Health?
Diwali is the time of the season when people gorge on sweets, are exposed to loads of pollution (both indoor and outdoor pollution), spend hours partying and sleep late at nights. All these factors can increase your blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn worsen your condition. Here’s in detail how these factors can contribute to poor heart health.
Sugar and salt: Diwali is all about indulging in food and eating loads of sweets and savouries. But what most of us forget is the amount of sugar we consume, which in turn ups the risk of health complications including heart health. This is because, excess sugar can cause obesity and diabetes, both of which are modifiable risk factors of a heart disease. So if you are suffering from a heart problem and do not keep a tab on your sugar intake, especially during Diwali, then it may not be good for the heart.
Savouries also form an integral part of the Diwali menu. And if you eat them in excess, it can raise your blood pressure along with making you feel bloated as most of the savouries are loaded with salt. Hence, it is wise to control your salt intake, especially from the hidden sources such as samosas, sauce, namkeen, wafers, etc.
Fats: Most of the sweets and savouries are loaded with fats and excess of fats can harm your heart. And if you are suffering from a heart disease, it is important to limit your intake of fats. Most of the sweets and savouries are oil laden, which in turn can up your caloric intake and also add to your cholesterol intake. Excess cholesterol in people with a pre-existing heart condition can affect the proper functioning of the heart and lead to blockage of the arteries. This further increases the risk of a heart attack.
So monitor your intake of oily foods during Diwali. Be generous while eating nuts, seeds and dried fruits, which are common gifts during the festival as the same should be consumed in a proportionate manner.
Pollution: The loud noise from bursting crackers may cause anxiety and also increase blood pressure, which can even lead to stroke or cardiac arrest in people suffering from high blood pressure. For people who have an ischemic heart disease (narrowing of the coronary arteries) noise pollution during Diwali may increase the risk of a heart attack. The risk of a second heart attack is higher in people who have suffered one earlier. The sudden burst from a firecracker also increases the heart rate.
Moreover, air pollution due to firecrackers during Diwali can also up the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The pollutants not only cause an increase in blood pressure but also up the levels of inflammatory markers, which can impact the functioning of the heart. It also puts you at risk of atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and cardiac failure.
Alcohol: For many, Diwali party is not complete without booze. It is the time of the season to get together and enjoy with family, friends and relatives. However, this is when you should be extra cautious on the number of drinks you have as anything excess can have a direct impact on your heart. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), drinking too much of alcohol can raise the levels of triglycerides in the blood. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can cause high blood pressure, heart failure and can also lead to stroke. The AHA recommends men should not have more than two drinks and women should restrict to one drink per day.
Lack of sleep: Late night parties during Diwali is one of the common reasons for hitting the sack late at night. And even if you sleep on time, noise pollution due to the bursting of firecrackers can make you toss and turn in bed, leading to poor quality sleep. People who do not get enough sleep are at a higher risk of coronary artery disease and cardiovascular diseases, irrespective of your age, weight, smoking and exercise. Lack of sleep can cause disturbances in glucose metabolism and increase the risk of blood pressure and inflammation, which ultimately affects the heart. Hence, getting a good quality sleep is important, especially for people with a heart disease, to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Tips to keep your heart healthy!
This Diwali here are few simple tips you should follow without fail to keep your heart healthy and prevent the related health complications.
-Take your medicines religiously. If you experience any symptoms such as breathing difficulty or chest pain, do consult your doctor immediately.
-Talk to your neighbours and society to encourage soundless firecrackers. Children and those with a preexisting heart condition are more sensitive to the loud noise, so have a safe and noise-free Diwali.
– Say no to store-bought sweets and savouries. Indulge in home-cooked food and opt for low-fat, low-sugar and baked versions instead of the traditional Diwali sweets.
– Keep a food diary and write everything you eat during a day in the journal. This will help you to maintain a record and keep a track of your food intake (including healthy and unhealthy foods).
– Keep your doors and windows closed to prevent noise and air pollution. If you are travelling in a car, then it is wise to roll up the windows to lower the noise levels.
-Wear earplugs to prevent exposure to loud sounds and get your good night’s sleep during this festival. Also, opt for anti-pollution masks to breathe cleaner air.
– Always keep the emergency contacts handy. This includes the list of doctors, ambulance, nearest hospitals and those with 24-hours emergency services.
Wish you a very happy, safe and healthy Diwali!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)