The recent death of a CEO of a company in his 40s because of a heart attack made rounds in the media. However, the headlines probably missed the larger, grimmer picture that India is losing a majority of its urban and rural youth to cardiac diseases. World heart day observed on September 29 aims to awaken people towards this delicate organ of the human body and to be a heart hero. Commemorated on the last Sunday of September every year, the theme of World Heart Day 2019 was, “my heart, your heart” campaign.
According to preliminary findings of the Million Death Study (MDS), about 25 per cent of deaths in the age group of 25- 69 years and 19 per cent of all deaths occur because of heart diseases, including 33 per cent of deaths in the urban areas and 23 per cent in the rural areas.
Speaking to this correspondent, Dr Sanjay Shah said, “Cardiac problems are no longer limited to towns or to the aged. Heart problems are undoubtedly the number one killer in India. Every year more than 17 million people die of cardiac diseases all over the world and India has the unhealthy reputation of being the capital of the world in heart problems.”
Increasingly, Indians are succumbing to heart disease in their most productive years, at least 10 years earlier than their western counterparts. This imposes a tremendous economic burden. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the cost of lost productivity due to premature death and disability will touch a staggering $ 237 billion in another five years.
“Today, everyone is too aggressive at work,” Dr Shah added. “Long working hours, junk food and very little physical activity are all taking a toll on the heart. Since all of us spend the largest part of our life at work, workplace wellness is a good starting point for healthy hearts,” he said.
A recent study conducted by The Initiative for Cardiovascular Health Research in Developing Countries (IC Health) involving over 20,000 people from 10 Indian worksites, showed that workplace interventions could reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The intervention group reduced salt intake, increased fruit and vegetable consumption, increased levels of physical activity, decreased tobacco use, lost weight, and attained lower blood pressure, serum cholesterol and plasma glucose levels. Such modification of several risk factors at once can have a positive multiplier effect on heart health.
“Today, we have all the medicines we need to take care of heart problems. The preventive measures are equally important. In this regard, one must appreciate the efforts of socially conscious organisations in creating greater awareness among individuals. A problem of this magnitude will require combined efforts from the government, the private sector and each and every individual. After all, what is at stake is nothing less than heart of the nation,”said the doctor.
Monday, 30 September 2019 | PNS | Haridwar
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