Ignorance may be bliss sometimes but never when it comes to the heart. Rapid urbanisation inducing stress and a stressful lifestyle, coupled with dietary issues, are alarmingly taking toll on the heart, spiking cardiovascular diseases year after year. These ailments have increasingly affected the younger age groups, imposing economic and social burdens on the society, doctors point out in a chat with THE HEALTH PIONEER
Dr Vivek Tandon, Additional Director, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hospital Greater Noida, said, “Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of mortality in India.
In the last few years, there has been a rise in heart attack cases which has also been recorded in various studies: 25% of Indians below 40 years of age are at a higher risk of suffering heart attacks or other serious heart-related ailment.
This risk increases to 50% for people between 40 and 50 years of age.”
Regular Health Screening, Weight Management and moderate exercising lowers the risk of heart attack, advises the medicos.
People with family history of cardio vascular diseases, smoking and high stress levels are at greater risk, they warn.
“Since heart health has been a serious concern in India, the need for introducing light to moderate exercise regime, maintaining body weight, healthy diet intake, reduce consumption of alcohol and tobacco are critical to avert any cardiac related ailments.
“Even if we are active, take a balanced diet, give up smoking and alcohol, and introduce methods to keep stress levels under control, sudden cardiac arrests can be averted. One of the major reasons for increasing heart attack cases in the young population is the long working hours, reduced sleep, and relationship issues, which cause stress and lead to heart disease. People with risk factors like family history of cardiovascular disease and exposure to an unhealthy lifestyle must get themselves examined by doctors”, added Dr Tandon.
Cardiologists at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad concured even as they blamed stress, smoking and overeating-led visceral weight gain as the flagbearers of risk factors leading to cardiovascular challenges.
Dr. Vivek Chaturvedi, Head of Department (Adult Cardiology), Amrita Hospital, Faridabad said, “Stress management takes center stage in heart health so, it is crucial to avoid excessive stress and also smoking which is caused by it.
Additionally, maintaining control over eating habits is crucial; overeating should be avoided, and a healthy diet should be embraced. Abdominal obesity is a significant concern for heart health which can be prevented through regular exercise and physical activity. Such activities hold great significance in preventing a range of diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Weight loss and blood pressure reduction can often be achieved through regular exercise without the need for medication.”
The doctors emphasized upon inculcating healthy habits among students in the early stage itself. “School students should adapt to a healthy lifestyle early on in their lives which will help them sidestep adverse heart diseases in the long run,” said Dr. Mohit Bhutani, Assistant Professor, Dept of Adult Cardiology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
He added, “Students should focus on taking a balanced diet, with an adequate intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nuts while cautioning against excessive consumption of fatty foods. In the educational setting, schools play a pivotal role in promoting heart health among students. Schools to monitor students' anthropometry regularly, which includes measurements like height, weight, and body mass index, to identify and address potential obesity concerns early on.
“Incorporating yoga and meditation into daily routines can enhance mental and emotional health of students. It is essential for students to avoid harmful habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and substance abuse. Teachers are urged to lead by example by proactively integrating heart-healthy practices into their lives, including regular exercise, tobacco and alcohol avoidance, and stress management through activities like yoga and meditation.”
Pramit Mishra, Facility Director, Fortis Hospital, Greater Noida stressed on having complete sleep.
"In these competitive times, our sleep takes a toll, which impacts the overall health, whereas people who complete their sleepcycles and have healthier sleep patterns are better at managing health factors like weight and blood pressure along with a healthy heart.”
India's share of one-fifth in the 17.9 million global heart attack deaths, as per WHO, is a stark reminder that heart disease is now affecting people in their 30s and 40s. This shift highlights the urgent need for preventive measures and early detection in younger adults to curb this alarming trend.
Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Founder-Director and Senior Psychiatrist from Manasthali felt that one way to keep heart healthy is by keeping one free from stress.
“Stress is the silent architect of heart disease, weaving a web of risk factors that can shatter the strongest of hearts. It's not just an emotional burden; it's a potent risk factor for heart disease. When stress takes center stage in our daily existence, it orchestrates a symphony of physiological changes that can, over time, harm our cardiovascular health. Like a relentless storm, chronic stress can erode the resilience of our hearts, leading to increased blood pressure, inflammation, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
“To protect the heart's sanctity, we must become vigilant guardians of our well-being, mastering the art of stress management. As we unravel the knots of tension, we fortify the heart's defenses, nurturing a future where stress is but a fleeting gust in the gentle breeze of a healthy heart.”
The WHO South-East Asia Region member states need to join the global call to raise awareness about heart health and accelerate actions to prevent, detect and manage cardiovascular diseases. The region is home to a quarter of the world's population, said WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh on the occasion of World Heart Day observed on September 29.
The WHO South-East Asia Region is experiencing a very high burden of noncommunicable diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 3.9 million or 30 per cent of all deaths annually.
"Alarmingly, almost half (48 per cent) of these cardiovascular disease-related deaths occurred prematurely, affecting individuals aged 30-70 years and imposing significant socioeconomic burdens on families, communities and countries," Singh said.
The main causes to the burden of cardiovascular diseases include modifiable lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets -- especially high salt intake -- and lack of physical activity. Raised blood pressure and glucose levels are the key drivers and these can be detected, diagnosed and managed adequately in primary care, she added.