The case for heart­care

> All those at­tempts to en­sure our ticker goes on tick­ing hap­pily go to nought if we do not make the ef­fort to move more

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE - JONATHAN TAN

THE MAR­KET­ING of health­care to the gen­eral pub­lic has re­cently ex­pe­ri­enced a par­a­digm shift. Ev­ery­body is now chang­ing tac­tics and ad­dress­ing health­care as ‘heart­care’.

Heart­care en­com­passes all ail­ments that can im­pair the func­tion­al­ity of the heart.

Take di­a­betes, for ex­am­ple, which refers to the body’s in­abil­ity to re­spond to or pro­duce in­sulin, which re­sults in a high blood glu­cose (sugar) level.

Over time, the con­di­tion can dam­age your blood ves­sels, as well as the nerves that con­trol your heart and blood ves­sels.

Peo­ple with di­a­betes also tend to de­velop heart dis­ease at a younger age than those with­out di­a­betes.

And among adults with di­a­betes, the most com­mon causes of death are heart dis­ease and stroke.

An­other group of peo­ple at risk of de­vel­op­ing heart dis­ease are those who suf­fer from hy­per­ten­sion, or high blood pres­sure.

In fact, hy­per­ten­sive heart dis­ease is the num­ber one cause of death associated with high blood pres­sure. It refers to a group of dis­or­ders that in­clude heart fail­ure, is­chemic heart dis­ease, and left ven­tric­u­lar hy­per­tro­phy (ex­ces­sive thick­en­ing of the heart mus­cle).

Is­chemic heart dis­ease, which means that the heart mus­cle isn’t get­ting enough blood, is usu­ally the re­sult of ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, or hard­en­ing of the ar­ter­ies (coro­nary artery dis­ease), which im­pedes blood flow to the heart.

An­other po­ten­tial source of risk for your heart is hav­ing a fatty liver.

While most peo­ple can un­der­stand how the pre­vi­ous two con­di­tions can im­pact the heart, what ef­fect can an en­tirely dif­fer­ent or­gan have on it?

Well, the liver pro­duces and feeds many en­zymes and hor­mones that help con­trol other bod­ily func­tions.

Imag­ine if a com­pany’s hu­man re­source depart­ment failed in its task. Any de­lay in dis­tribut­ing the salary to its em­ploy­ees, and the whole com­pany goes into chaos.

One of the pri­mary func­tions of the liver is to store fat. It does this by ab­sorb­ing glu­cose from our blood, and turn­ing it into body fat for long-term stor­age.

But, when the liver stores too much fat, it too breaks down. Too lit­tle and it’s not good for over­all health, too much and it can be harm­ful. Those who have a fatty liver are also in dan­ger of de­vel­op­ing heart dis­ease.

In­stead of fo­cus­ing on each of these con­di­tions in­di­vid­u­ally, the health in­dus­try is now mov­ing to bring them all un­der one mis­sion, and get­ting ev­ery­one to ‘take care of the heart’.

It makes sense. You also have to make many other care­ful choices in life, as it all comes back to the heart.

But I think, all these mes­sages on heart­care tend to miss the point.

These days, I see a lot of pop­u­lar me­dia and ad­ver­tis­ing try­ing to sell the idea that you can ac­tu­ally eat your way to a bet­ter healthy heart.

Yes, you can stay healthy by not eat­ing junk, fol­low­ing a rea­son­able diet, and con­trol­ling your por­tions.

You may even be able to do it for a long while, but we are still hu­man. And there is a lot of nice food out there to tempt us.

Peo­ple may or­der a non-fat latte with a triple shot of espresso, but add in three packs of sugar. Or have a healthy grilled chicken salad, but cov­ered in a dress­ing so thick and oily that it is al­most a dish in it­self.

And don’t even get me started on those new age su­per­foods, like kale.

Kale the su­per veg has been the base for all sorts of ev­ery­day food, like kale shakes, kale and cheese pie, kale salad.

I have noth­ing against kale. I think it’s a good healthy veg­etable.

And we Asians have been con­sum­ing the mighty kale for gen­er­a­tions. We just call it kailan, also known as Chi­nese kale. It’s kind of same but dif­fer­ent.

But the dan­ger of think­ing we can eat our way to good health is usu­ally that we tend to ig­nore an­other far more ef­fec­tive method of im­prov­ing our heart health – move­ment!

I use the word ‘move­ment’ be­cause the word ‘ex­er­cise’ is scarier. And let’s face it, most of us would rather eat kale than run on the tread­mill.

The trou­ble with mod­ern liv­ing is that peo­ple are mov­ing less, and try­ing to get into the habit of ex­er­cis­ing.

But, I’d like to note here that if peo­ple ac­tu­ally took the trou­ble to move more, then they need not pay any­thing for ex­er­cise.

Let’s put it this way. ‘Ex­er­cise’ these days more of­ten that not equals some form of out­ward pay­ment in mon­e­tary value like buy­ing a gym mem­ber­ship, or home ex­er­cise equip­ment.

This is some­thing my grand­fa­ther and my par­ents never felt the need for in their day.

When they needed to buy bread, they walked to the shops. To­day, you can Uber your bread to you.

I’m just won­der­ing how that helps your heart­care.

Jonathan Tan is cur­rently Club Man­ager of the Sports Toto Fit­ness Cen­tre at Ber­jaya Times Square. He can be con­tacted at lifestyle. jonathan@the­sundaily.com.

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