Bhubaneswar: India has been facing the menace of increased mortality on account of non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes and stroke over the past few decades. Coronary heart diseases have taken a heavy toll on premature deaths in the country, especially in the urban areas.
According to a recent study published in The Lancet, cardiac ailments killed more Indians (28%) in 2016 than any other non-communicable disease. The study also revealed that heart ailments caused more than 2.1 million deaths in India across all ages in 2015.
An alarming increase in heart disease has been witnessed among young adults, mostly in the age group of 22-26 years, in India owing to sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy food habits, and high levels of emotional and physical stress especially in urban areas, binge drinking and use of narcotics. According to the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) State-Level Disease Burden Report, among all age groups, the prevalence of heart disease has increased by over 50 per cent from 1990 to 2016 in India with an increase observed almost in every state.
The vulnerable urban population
The current sedentary lifestyle plays a major part in the rise of cardiovascular diseases among the urban population. Lack of mobility and exercise, improper eating habits and lack of proper sleep lead to the build-up of bad cholesterol which prevents the blood from flowing freely thus causing hypertension, heart attacks, etc.
The other big driver of heart diseases is excessive tobacco consumption (cigarette, bi and chewable tobacco). Tobacco increases the risk of premature heart disease because of inflammation in the wall of coronary artery and increased platelet activity. These can further develop into clot formation or blockage thus resulting in heart attack.
In addition, certain lifestyle choices largely impact the health of heart and can increase the risk of developing heart diseases at an early age. Binging on junk food and over consumption of alcohol can lead to obesity and makes one more prone to heart diseases.
These habits and lifestyle choices can also make a person diabetic. Diabetes is commonly associated with other risk factors such as hypertension and lipid disorder and results in premature heart disease. Diabetes also inclines the patient toward heart attack due to inflammation of arterial wall and increased tendency for clot formation.
According to multiple research studies, on an average, Indians get a heart attack 8-10 years earlier than other ethnic groups. The most unfortunate fact is that 40% people in our country who develop heart ailments are under the age of 55 years. This scenario can be altered with self-care and by keeping the heart healthy. Following are a few simple lifestyle tricks that can help in prevention and better management of heart diseases:
- Eating a balanced diet, sticking to low-fat, high-fiber foods and making sure that one consumes five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day, increasing the intake of whole grains and reducing the amount of salt and sugar in the diet are ways to prevent heart disease. Also, one should make sure to include unsaturated fats in the diet.
- Exercising regularly will strengthen the heart and circulatory system and will keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels in control.
- Smoking is a major risk factor for heart and cardiovascular conditions. Hence, quit smoking. Also, too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, increase heart muscle disease, lead to cancer and other diseases. One should also cut down on alcohol intake.
(Dr Shaila is an interventional cardiologist working with Kalinga Hospital)