India would have the maximum number of cardiac patients by 2020 if Indians do not resolve to change their lifestyle at the earliest. The above warning has been issued by leading Cardiologists in the country.
Stress, bad eating habits and the growing number of diabetic patients are contributing to the increasing incidence of heart ailments. About eight percent of India's population now suffers from heart diseases.
'Since heart disease is primarily a lifestyle ailment, there is a need to change habits and patterns,' said Praveen Chandra, director (cardiology) at the Max Heart and Vascular Institute.
'In urban areas people are stressed out in trying to achieve something extra. Youngsters are working overtime, literally burning the midnight oil to do better in academics and their work sphere. Increasingly, it is the younger generation which is becoming vulnerable to the disease,' Chandra told IANS on the sidelines of a workshop on cardiovascular disease for doctors.
The disease earlier affected people in the post retirement age group. But in recent times people in younger age groups were also becoming victims. Youngsters in their early 20s have begun to die due to cardiac problems.
Brian Pinto of the Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai said that mental stress, smoking and bad food habits of the younger generation were contributing to the incidence of heart ailments.
'Exercise and a balanced diet no longer top the priority as far as youngsters are concerned. Large intake of junk food and emotional turmoil often aggravate heart disease,' Pinto said.
He added that citizens from South Asia, especially India, were becoming increasingly prone to the disease due to genetic factors. Hence, to avoid heart disease, people need to monitor their lifestyle.
'Our food often has less good cholesterol and contains more triglycerides, a type of fat that settles in the blood vessels affecting the flow of blood to the heart. Besides, there are around 25 million diabetes patients in India and can at anytime be vulnerable to heart problems. Bring a little bit of discipline to your life and have a healthy heart and mind,' said Dr. Brian, while advising youngsters to sleep well at night and stay away from high cholesterol-laced fast foods. He said if people don't realise the repercussions of bad lifestyle, India would be home to maximum number of cardiac patients by 2020', said Dr. Pinto.
Uday B. Khanolkar, director of the cardiovascular sciences at the Apollo Victor Hospital at Goa, said the fact that the disease had started affecting youngsters was a matter of immense concern.
'Over 50 percent of India's population is young and the increasing incidence of the disease in this segment will affect the economic balance of the country. The productive life cycle is slowly getting affected,' Khanolkar said.
'When the younger generation contributing to the country's economy is increasingly affected by the disease while they are in the prime of their life, their families will also suffer,' he said.
'More shockingly, due to bad eating habits and smoking, young women in urban India are becoming affected,' he added.
Experts want authorities and NGOs to battle against the health hazard.
Lam Kai Haut, a senior cardiologist from Kuala Lumpur, said that although Indian health practitioners were more efficient than those in his country, India lagged behind in awareness campaigns.
'Health awareness is a field where India can learn from Malaysia. There should be a proper campaign on the lines of polio and AIDS against cardiovascular problems,' Haut said.