Prevent India from being the heart disease capital of the world


New Delhi: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and premature mortality in the world contributing to over 17.5 million deaths every year. The disease posses a great risk in a developing country like India, which is not only one of the most densely populated nations in the world but is also beset with extreme differences in terms of the social, economic and regional divisions. Given the high economic burden of cardiovascular disease on the patient and his family; the increase in disease incidence runs the risk of the rich becoming poor and the poor dying just because they could not afford the treatment.

India already holds the title of the diabetic capital of the world. Estimates indicate that by 2025, we will also be the CVD capital of the world with estimation of 69.8 million disease cases. While there exist various types of cardiovascular diseases plaguing the Indian society, the most rapidly growing form coronary artery disease.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr. KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India and Honorary Secretary General IMA, said, “Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused due to the narrowing and choking of the heart artery walls over a period due to the deposit of plaque. The primary cause of this is irregularities in lifestyle. People in today’s day and age are faced with high levels of stress causing them to eat an unhealthy diet, sleepless, depend more on toxic substances such as alcohol and cigarettes and exercise less. All these lead to an increase in the incidence of CAD.”

Indians due to their genetic predisposition are anyways at a high risk of premature coronary artery disease due to the presence of high levels of lipoprotein. They further add to their misery by living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. The risk of CAD in Indians is 3–4 times higher than Americans, six times higher than Chinese and 20 times higher than Japanese. CAD affects Indians 5–10 years earlier than any other community in the world.

One can take the following steps to reduce their chances of suffering from cardiac diseases in the future:

· Eat healthily, sleep right: A healthy and balanced diet is key for a healthy heart. An over-dependence on junk food, consumption of saturated and trans fats, food containing high salt and sugar levels – lead an increased incidence of obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes, all key risk factors of heart disease. A healthy diet must consist of items, which have low levels of saturated fats, fresh fruits and vegetables.

· Exercise Regularly – Regular exercise is important to strengthen one’s, heart, lower blood pressure, keep obesity under control, burn off stress, boost your self-esteem and help you sleep better. By regularly exercising for at least 30 minutes three to four times a week, one can keep their heart healthy. Aerobic exercise particularly is beneficial for patients with a tendency to get heart disease.

· Kick the butt – Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build-up of fatty material (atheroma), which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, heart attack or a stroke. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. Thus, smoking is extremely dangerous for a heart and is a leading cause of heart attacks amongst the young.

· Limit the intake of alcohol – If you have to consume alcohol, drink in moderation. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes raised blood pressure, which is one of the most important risk factors for having a heart attack or a stroke. Increases in your blood pressure can also be caused by weight gain from excessive drinking. Obesity too leads to cardiovascular ailments.

· De-stress – High levels of stress make other risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure worse and push you to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. For instance, if you are under stress, your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, you may exercise less, and you may be more likely to smoke. Engaging in deep breathing exercises, doing yoga all help decrease stress and the temptation to indulge in bad habits.

· Get regular health check-ups – Lastly, one must get regular health check-ups to ensure that their blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol are all under control and to rule out the risk of heart disease in the future. If at risk, necessary lifestyle changes must be made


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