‘Over 50% heart disease patients in India seek medical help only in emergency’

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New Delhi– More than 50 per cent of heart disease patients in India seek medical advice only in the case of an emergency, according to an alarming survey that revealed a lack of awareness about the condition.

The survey report titled “Non-Communicable Diseases in India” covered 2,33,672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 states to analyse the rising cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. It was conducted by apex trade body ASSOCHAM jointly with Delhi-based think tank Thought Arbitrage Research Institute.

The survey observed that the risk and prevalence of heart diseases increase significantly from the age of 36-45 years. Yet over 70 per cent of respondents stated that they were diagnosed after one year of suffering.

More than 40 per cent of the respondents suffering from Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and hypertension accepted that they were not aware of having their respective diseases for more than three years, while about 10 per cent said they are not seeking any treatment, highlighting gaps in the treatment-seeking behaviour of people.

Alarmingly, around 3 per cent of CVD/heart diseases patients said they rely on Ayush — traditional and non-conventional systems of health care and healing, quack, and others which include home treatment, advice from others, treatment on the Internet, etc., the survey revealed.

Heart diseases and hypertension have a prevalence of 1.01 per cent and 3.60 per cent respectively and both together account for 32 per cent of all NCDs in India.

While the prevalence of hypertension was found to be higher in females than males (4.04 per cent vs 3.21 per cent), the incidence of heart diseases is higher in males (1.13 per cent) compared to females (0.87 per cent).

“Heart disease cases have been rising steadily in India and we must adopt a holistic approach which includes an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, and managing work stress and work for a healthy long life,” Anil Rajput, Chairperson, ASSOCHAM CSR Council, said in a statement.

Further, the report observed that a high-stress level is the main risk factor for heart diseases (37 per cent) followed by poor dietary habits (11 per cent), obesity (9 per cent) and sedentary lifestyles (8 per cent).

On the other hand, low physical activity (36 per cent) was found as the major reason for hypertension, followed by high consumption of junk food with high salt content (30 per cent), and exposure to air pollution (19 per cent).

High consumption of alcohol and tobacco are among other risk factors identified for causing heart ailments and hypertension.

The study added that hypertension, respiratory diseases and diabetes have the highest comorbidity with heart diseases. On the other hand, hypertension has the highest comorbidity with other NCDs, and its prevalence significantly increases the risk of other NCDs.

“The incidence of heart disease is steadily rising along with the epidemic of diabetes and obesity. Primary reasons being unhealthy lifestyles that lead to hypertension, high cholesterol, further fuelled by smoking and drinking, stress, irregular eating habits, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise and negligence towards one’s health. There is an urgent need to sensitise people that the lifestyle they adopted during the pandemic is even more detrimental and that urgent efforts need to be made to ensure better quality of life,” said Dr Atul Limaye, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, in a statement. (IANS)



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