Claiming 17.3 million lives per year, cardiovascular disease, which comprises of heart disease and stroke, is the number one killer worldwide. It claims more than the total deaths (3.86 million deaths per year) due to malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis put together. In fact, the risk for heart disease is found to be higher in Indians than that in U.S. and Western Europe. In India too, cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of mortality, leading to 1.7-2.0 million deaths annually.
Born with thinner arteries and at genetic risk for cardiac diseases, Indians are worsening their risk for heart diseases with poor physical activity, a high-fat diet and by steadily shunning fruits and vegetables. In today’s stressful world, it has become crucial that each one of us takes some constructive steps to save the heart of our loved ones before it is too late, especially since prevention is easy and can substantially reduce cardiac risk.
There are certain myths associated with heart diseases “It is a myth that cardiovascular disease mostly affects males. In fact, heart disease is the reason for 1 in 3 female deaths each year. It’s my urge to all Indian females that in their daily rush when they are being ideal wives and mothers, please take at least a moment for yourself and listen to your own heart. After all, health of the entire family depends on you. It is important that you should be healthy enough so that you can extend your care to your family members.” “In fact not only adults, in today’s world, our children are also at increased risk of heart disease. So there is no age or gender bar to develop cardiovascular disease.”
“India is being known as the coronary and diabetes capital of the world. It is sad that we are losing so many young lives,” . “But the solution is simple. We just need to make some small changes in our lifestyle and if you have some heart problem, follow the instructions given by your doctor rather than following Google.”
The Indian Heart Watch study, spanning 11 cities as well as mid-sized towns and covering 6,000 men and women, was the first to offer insights on risk factors for heart diseases in India. According to the study report, around 79% of men and 83% of women (who participated in the study) were physically inactive, while 51% men and 48% women had high-fat diets. About 60% men and 57% women had a low intake of fruit and vegetables, while 12% men and 0.5% women smoked. Around 41% of men and 45% of women were overweight or obese while high blood pressure was reported in 33% men and 30% women, and high cholesterol was found in one-quarter of all men and women. Diabetes was also reported in 34% men and 37% women. After the elaborate discussion on the prevalence of various risk factors in India, Dr (name) highlighted that these risk factors especially high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity substantially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. “But the good news is that these risk factors are modifiable and can be kept under our control”
To best combat heart disease in India,there needs to be a comprehensive approach, which will require improvements in basic amenities, healthcare facilities and, perhaps most importantly, education that will enable people to take responsibility for their own actions. “For tuberculosis you have TB clinics. For malaria, you have the malaria control programme. For cardiovascular diseases especially in rural areas, we have nothing so far. We need to educate people on cardiovascular diseases and which emphasizes that if you want to save your loved ones from this killer it is important that you make some small changes in your and your loved one’s lives. Truly, it is important for us to understand that Heart makes the world go round, let’s step up and start caring.”
Do’s & Don’ts of Heart Disease
Eat a healthy, well balanced diet, rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
Do not consume fried foods or foods rich in saturated fats (e.g. cakes, cookies, red meat, egg yolk etc) or high-salt foods (e.g. papads, pickle, chutneys etc.)
Keep your body weight, blood pressure, diabetes and blood cholesterol under control.
Visit your doctor at regular intervals.
Do not smoke or consume excess alcohol.
Walk or exercise for at least 30 minutes, for a minimum of 5 days in a week, with your doctor’s advice
Do not get emotionally upset or stress (physically or mentally).
Take the medicines prescribed for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or diabetes as per your doctor’s advice.
Do not take any medicines without consulting your doctor.