In May 2012, world leaders committed to reducing the worldwide death rate from non-communicable diseases by 25 per cent by 2025. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) contributes to about half of all NCD deaths making it the number one killer globally. World Heart Day is, on September 29, therefore, the perfect platform for the community to come together in the fight against these diseases.
Created by the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day informs people across the nations that CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of mortality across the globe that claims 18.6 million lives annually and highlights the actions that people can take to prevent and control CVD. It aims to drive action to make people aware that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80 per cent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be prevented.
According to the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day is a worldwide campaign during which people, families, communities, and governments participate in various activities to improve the heart's health. Through this campaign, the World Heart Federation unites people from all nations and backgrounds to fight against the CVD burden and inspires and drives international action to encourage heart-healthy living.
Heart Diseases In India
According to the World Health Organisation, India contributes one-fifth of the total mortality rates in terms of stroke and ischemic heart disease. What is more worrying is the fact that these fatalities occur mostly in younger adults.
"Cardiovascular diseases affect Indian people ten years earlier than the other people from the western countries and nearly 3 million individuals die of stroke and heart attack every year. The most worrying part is that, among the heart attacks, 40 per cent are below the age of 55," Dr Harinder K. Bali, Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula told The Indian Express.
"With the growing number 0f such cases in India over the last 26 years by 34 per cent , it is time to address this serious issues and take necessary steps in this regard," he added.
Doctors say that if a patient is being informed about the risk factors, it can help prevent or manage their symptoms at the earliest and reduce the risk of a sudden heart attack. There are various factors that contribute to heart disease, including smoking, obesity, age factor, unhealthy diet, not getting enough physical activity, among other factors.
Reportedly, India has the second-largest number of smokers globally, the first being China. India has 34.6 adult smokers and is home to 12 per cent of global smokers," Dr Bali said.
As per a study, nearly 1 out of 5 deaths from heart disease are directly linked to smoking. The risk is greater for women who smoke and also consume birth control pills.
The nicotine hampers the oxygen supply to the heart, raises blood pressure, forms blood clots, speeds up the heart rate, harms the blood vessels in the heart. All these factors put pressure on the heart and make it work harder and later become a cause of a stroke or heart attack.
The prevalence of obesity is increasing alarmingly in the country especially in urban areas and is seen in 30–65 per cent of the adult urban population. Dr Bali said that India has the highest number of overweight and obese children who, after growing up, are likely to contribute further to the already cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.
"Obese people mostly suffer from high blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of stroke and heart attacks," he stated, as per The Indian Express.
Dietary Habits And Exercise
Around half of the Indians are vegetarians, and yet diabetes and CVD risks are high as compared to non-vegetarians living in western countries. Indians consume diets having high levels of carbohydrates combined with uneven dietary patterns.
Using the same oil multiple times for cooking in Indian culture is expected, which leads to trans fatty acids. The countrymen have less intake of fresh fruits and vegetables compared to the other countries.
Other causes may include rapid lifestyle changes due to urbanisation and nutritional transitions that accompany such economic developments. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research–India Diabetes (ICMR–INDIAB) study, every second person in India is physically inactive, and not even 10 per cent of the studied population was indulged in doing regular physical exercises.
Hypertension among the young generation in India is higher than in Central and Eastern Europe. "Hypertension contributes to 10.8 per cent of all mortalities in the country and it has risen drastically over the last 30 years in urban as well as rural areas. Hypertension eventually increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes," Dr Bali explained.
Due to the intense stress in the form of work, family issues, personal life among many, the young generation is prone to high blood pressure and diabetes. The doctor said that modifications in the lifestyle could vastly reduce these risks.
"Young adults must engage in moderate to intense exercises like jogging, cycling, yoga, weight training, aerobics and swimming. Also, they should refrain from excessive alcohol consumption and smoking," he stressed.
He also pushed for a balanced and healthy diet for maintaining healthy heart health. "Young people should avoid eating junk food and instead look for more healthy options like fruits, nuts, green vegetables, calcium etc. Also, one should learn to eat on time. Late lunch and dinner is no way appreciated," he said.
He also urged young adults to get their cardiac evaluation done every year to prevent such life-threatening situations.