Not a day goes by when Odisha's busiest cardiac centers don’t see young men and women being rushed to their emergency wards with heart attacks. Comedian Raju Srivastav, singer KK, TV actor Sidharth Shukla, and many celebrities have brought to light the growing cardiac disease in the young. As data and evidence suggests, India's younger generation seems to be increasingly susceptible to death due to cardiovascular disease.
A look at the statistics and numbers is thought provoking. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-fifth of the world’s cardiovascular deaths happen in India. Most of these are unfortunately in younger people. In the burden of the disease study, cardiovascular deaths in India were 272 per one lakh which is much higher that the global average of 235 per one lakh deaths. In the Covid era of 2020-2021, studies reported that 11.5 per cent of the heart attacks were reported among the younger generation.
To better understand the risk of cardiovascular diseases among younger Indians, the Indian Hearts Lacking Care (IHL Care) surveyed young people in cities across India. Their alarming conclusion was that 53% of Indians in the age group of 26-40 years are at risk of cardiovascular disease. It is high time every Indian takes cardiovascular disease seriously.
Heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths are preventable. Young Indians are at such high risk because of extremely unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles and high level of stress. With around 30 percent of younger Indians found to be obese in metros, fast food and junk food laden with refined cereals, sugars, saturated fats and calories seems to be taking its toll. Most jobs with demanding working hours leave little time for exercise. With life in general becoming more complex, stress factor is on the rise.
Young Indians need to take their health seriously. Awareness of healthy lifestyle and avoiding unhealthy habits is required. Diets need to be balanced and healthy. Taking time out for exercise and maintaining work-life balance is the need of the hour for Young India.
Odisha has a lot of catching up to do in the field of treatment of heart disease. Heart attacks have a golden hour time period from the onset of symptoms during which treatment can save the person. Odisha unfortunately lacks cardiac care facilities in most places of the state. Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar is not fully equipped to manage cardiac emergencies at odd hours. District hospitals and community centers often lack basic cardiac equipment and cardiologists to diagnose and treat heart disease. The typical heart attack victim in Odisha loses precious time while being shifted to higher referral centers for treatment. A lot of lives that could be saved are thus unfortunately jeopardized due to lack of cardiac care in much of the state.
With Blood Pressure (BP) and Diabetes on the rise in Odisha, which are known risk factors for heart disease, we need to be careful. The administration needs to frame clear policies to encourage healthier diet for Odias. Public awareness campaigns are need of the hour. Public health measures like clearly mentioning the calorie count of fast food items as well as making it mandatory to mention risky ingredients like saturated fats on food packaging is necessary.
State-level health programs need to be designed to make the public aware of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Mass screening campaigns are necessary to detect these diseases early in Odias. Adequate medicines must be available at subsidised rate for poorer patients who need to take medicines lifelong for cardiac diseases, as most discontinue treatment for want of financial resources.
Odisha has miles to go in prevention and treatment of heart disease. Exercise more, eat right, think light and make your heart's future bright.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author is an Orthopedic Surgeon and can be reached at email@example.com)
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