India's burgeoning youth population might be a matter of satisfaction. Still there is an area of concern too.
For it has been estimated that by 2015, India will have 62 million heart patients. And of them. as many as 23 million will be below 40 years of age.
Addressing captains of industry in Coimbatore in western Tamil Nadu in southern India last week, visiting US expert Dr Enas A Enas warned, "India will have the largest Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) burden in the world, which will have profound global implications, especially for the global economy."
According to him, heart disease rates among Indians were 50 percent to 300 percent higher than other populations, with a higher risk at younger age groups. And the disease has doubled (1-2 percent to 4-5 percent) in rural India and quadrupled (2-3 percent to 9-11 percent) in urban India over the past four decades.
"Many Indians are in double jeopardy from nature and nurture. When the genetic loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger," Enas said and added that due to their genetic predisposition, the risk factors were more harmful to Indians than in the case of other nationalities.
A combination of hereditary risks and lifestyle put Indians more vulnerable to heart disease, he said adding that among them it was usually premature, aggressive, severe and malignant.
"Despite repeat surgeries, blockage of arteries is possible, resulting in death," he observed.
He also noted that the prevalence among South Asians were higher than the corresponding rates for the native population in such countries as the US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Singapore, Trinidad, Fiji and Mauritius.
Men with diabetes had a two to three fold risk of dying after heart attack, whereas diabetic women had four- to six-fold risk, he said.
"In view of the malignant nature of the heart disease, early institution of healthy lifestyle is warranted from childhood itself," he stressed, and added, "CVD, obesity and diabetes have now become highly predictable and hence preventable and treatable."
He also warned that for every two pounds of weight gained over the `ideal' body weight, there was three percent increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Dwelling on the need for a healthy mix of vegetables in the diet, Dr.Enas noted, "Indians are the only population who fry vegetables and overcook food."
Do exercise everyday for 45 minutes, he said, but cautioned, "But you need not on the day when you do not eat."
Eat whole grains, legumes, fish (two or more times a week), lean meats, low or non-fat dairy products. "Use plenty of vegetables and fruits, but avoid fast foods, fried foods, cream sauces, soda or carbonated drinks."
Avoid anger and hostility. "Becoming angry is like injecting the risk from adrenalin to the heart directly," as he put it graphically.