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Unless one is a medical professional or has had a heart disease in some form, chances are slim that one has heard of the term' homocysteine levels. While many may not specifically know about it, every human body needs to regulate its levels of homocysteine, a common amino acid found in the body. High levels of it can damage the lining of your arteries and make you more susceptible to death and disability. Today, according to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death across the world. An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32 per cent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 per cent were due to heart attack and stroke.
Many people in India are deficient in micronutrients. In addition to popularly known conditions resulting from deficiencies, such as anemia or goitre, there are other adverse impacts that micronutrient deficiencies can have on the human body. B12 deficiency, or more essentially, B complex deficiency, can lead to elevation of homocysteine levels, which can cause artery damage.
While micronutrient deficiencies impair the body's ability to function at its best, medical research links Vitamin B12 deficiencies to poor heart health. According to research done on Saudi women, low levels of vitamin B12 were linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol that builds up in blood arteries), and total cholesterol. A high homocysteine level is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. It has been linked to low B6, B12, and folate levels and renal disease. Folic acid and B-complex vitamins may lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, or dying from heart disease.
Good sources of B12 are foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
There are many ways by which you can boost heart health.
If you are a hypertension patient, you are at an increased risk of heart disease. Check your blood pressure regularly, at least once a year for most adults- and more often if you have high blood pressure. Make positive lifestyle changes to prevent and also control high blood pressure.
High cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. If your cholesterol levels are over the danger line, go for a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. This will help. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides is also a known cause of coronary artery disease.
Obesity is a known risk factor and this can significantly contribute to the development of heart disease. This is mainly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So, control your weight to bring down your risk.
Cut down on or limit your intake of saturated fats, high sodium foods and avoid added sugars. Add a lot of fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains to your diet. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Don't underestimate the role of physical workouts in prevention of heart diseases. Exercise comes with many benefits. It strengthens your heart and improves your circulation. It keeps your weight at an ideal level and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can reduce your risk of heart disease.
(This article is authored by Dr. P K Ranga Rao, Senior Resident, Department of Cardiology, GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research)
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