Sport, physical exercise and cardiac protection: medical prescription

Dubai: Sajeev Kaura, an Indian expatriate in Dubai and senior commercial director of an international organization, now 55, was only 41 when he suffered a heart attack. An extremely fit person with an ideal weight range, he ran five times a week, covering almost 5-6 km each day at an average speed of 10 km/h and played golf each week.

Recounting his experience, Kaura said: “I was then stationed in Johannesburg, South Africa. This happened on a Sunday when I was visiting a friend for lunch. I suddenly felt a pain in my left arm which spread to my back. I was sweating and uncomfortable, but I thought the incident would pass. But within minutes I felt I had to go to the hospital.

He was taken to the emergency room by his friend where the doctor diagnosed that he was in the middle of a heart attack. “I was surprised because I was still super fit and healthy and I was only 41,” said Kaura, who had to undergo angioplasty to place a stent in her main artery.

Indian expat Sajeev Kaura, now 55, was just 41 when he suffered a heart attack.
Image Credit: Supplied

Family history, smoking habit

The reason Kaura suffered a heart attack could be attributed to her family history of heart disease and her habit of smoking, doctors said. “Those are the only two questions the doctor asked me. My dad who was a non-smoker had his first heart attack at 44. Here I was smoking about 10 cigarettes a day and it would have caused my main artery to thicken. Angioplasty and a stent later, I felt great,” Kaura said.

Since the incident, Kaura has completely quit smoking and has been on her fitness routine. “I continue to run five times a week, play golf once a week and eat healthy. Two years ago, I ran the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon. My weight has always been stable. The only thing that’s different is that I now have regular health and heart checkups, once every six months. Being physically fit probably saved me when I had a heart attack because my doctor said it could have been worse,” Kaura added.

What Kaura went through is not an isolated case. There have been many cases over the past two years of people collapsing with sudden cardiac arrest or suffering from an irregular heartbeat and in many cases with fatal consequences. But what are the risks involved?

The importance of healthy physical activity

While doctors agree that physical exertion and an exercise program are the best ways to stay healthy, cardiologists say you have to figure out how much is too much.

Dr Abdul Rahuman Aboobaker

Dr Abdul Rahuman Aboobaker, Consultant Cardiologist at Thumbay Hospital, Fujairah, explained: “Regular exercise is one of the most important recommendations for maintaining good health, but very vigorous exercise can sometimes lead to heart attack. myocardium (MI), arrhythmia and sudden death. ”

He said: “The most important cause of exercise-related cardiac events is related to coronary artery disease (CAD) or atherosclerosis. It involves the blockage of the main arteries of the heart supplying oxygenated blood. Although the buildup occurs very slowly and the disease is said to kill silently, an atherosclerotic plaque can rupture at any time and produce an acute blockage of the coronary artery. Triggers could be a smoking habit, physical or mental stress. Stress is again something that cannot be quantified and its impact varies from individual to individual. The stress of physical exercise is different according to age and depends on the physical state of each one.

Ajay Chaturvedi

Ajay Chaturvedi, a health sector personnel who is Basic Life Support (BLS) qualified and trained to give advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in emergencies, said that as a BLS trained official, he had worked closely with cases where people had suffered a sudden irregular heartbeat or heart attack.

He said: “Angina from exercise is a common occurrence. The added strain in the case of a person who may have a blocked artery can trigger excessive strain on the heart muscle and lead to complete blockage of the artery triggering cardiac arrest. Most people who are young never think they may have CVD and may overlook symptoms such as excessive sweating, nausea and dizziness. They assume it is due to strenuous exercise or weight lifting, when it may actually be happening because they are having a heart attack.

Prevention is therefore better than cure.

Fitness experts say it’s important to build up your fitness slowly and gradually and not go into sudden exertion.

There should be a regular program of stretching, breathing, and training, followed by an elaborate cooling down process that will help prevent any kind of heart fatigue.

Dr Aboobaker said: “One should follow the rule of exercising regularly without forcing too much. Individuals should follow the general rule of having regular medical checks. Knowing your body and how much you can stretch is the key requirement before starting high intensity workouts. Moreover, there is no single strategy. More often than not, people who exercise irregularly and later compensate with vigorous workouts to make up for missed periods are the ones who face health issues. Physical exercise should be categorized as beginner, intermediate and advanced [to avoid over-exhaustion].”

If the body develops a fever or an infection such as COVID-19, one should wait for full recovery before beginning any exercise. It is advisable to start an exercise regimen, at least two weeks after full recovery and this too graduated exercise.

Know the Symptoms

If you are exercising and experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention. Heaviness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, unusual sweating, lightheadedness, lightheadedness, and heart rhythm abnormalities are some of the red flags.

Have a medical evaluation every year

Anyone considering an exercise program who is over 40 should ideally consult their doctor, Dr. Aboobaker advised. The person must undergo an electrocardiogram and blood tests to find risk factors for coronary artery disease, diabetes, cholesterol, creatinine, etc. If a person has a family history of heart disease or has occasionally suffered from shortness of breath, palpitations, he should undergo an echocardiograph and a treadmill test. In high-risk people with heart disease or sudden death in the family, coronary CT angiography is also recommended.

Sport and heart health

Dr. Naeem Tareen, a leading cardiologist in the United Arab Emirates, those who play sports should also be aware of their heart health.

American Board Certified Cardiologist and Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and Head of the American Heart Center in Dubai Healthcare City, Dr Tareen said even professional athletes tend to lose their fitness once ‘they no longer play active sports and may end up suffering from heart problems. ailments.

Dr Naeem Tareen

“My message is that everyone, including athletes and cricketers, should have regular checkups and undergo echocardiograms and electrocardiographic stress test lipid profiles, in addition to following a healthy lifestyle.” , said Dr. Tareen.

He said professional athletes are more likely to suffer from heart disease after retirement because they don’t tend to exercise like they used to.

He said it was important for the general public to see a cardiologist immediately if they experience chest discomfort or heaviness in their chest or shortness of breath when exercising or playing sports.

“At first it happens after exertion or exercise. Some people have indigestion or pain in the left arm or pain or discomfort in the jaw. All of these are warning signs and should not be ignored. People in general should watch their weight, quit smoking or shisha, they should also watch their lipids, ie cholesterol, triglycerides and especially good and bad cholesterol.

Dr Tareen said it was important for people to have tight blood sugar control as well because diabetes is a major risk factor. Blood pressure should also be well controlled.

He said lack of exercise is also a risk factor. “I advise my patients to walk daily. Everyone should have annual checkups.

What if you feel discomfort during exercise?

• Stop exercising immediately and call the medical emergency number 999.

• Do not ignore or ignore any visible signs of discomfort such as arm pain, malaise, palpitations, nausea, or dizziness.

• Inform reception and ask for assistance. If the gym has a paramedic on call who knows how to administer CPR, ask for help.

• Call or notify family members; if you have a doctor, call him.

• Open the windows and lie down.

• Loosen your clothes and try to breathe deeply.

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