Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) deaths have the dubious distinction of being the highest among all fatal illnesses in India as they account for almost 25 per cent of deaths. A most worrying factor that has arisen over the past decade has been that more and more youngsters are becoming vulnerable to CVD and dying. According to me, there are several reasons for this alarming trend.
As a South Asian ethnicity, we are basically more susceptible to CVD by an early age and there is a higher case-fatality rate compared to western nations. We all know that the major risk factors for CVD are hypertension, diabetes, excess cholesterol, and smoking. Unrecognized and uncontrolled hypertension is one of the reasons for higher CVD. Although, one in four male adults has hypertension, according to a WHO study, only a third of them are aware that they have hypertension issues. Ironically, from among those who know of their problem, only one-third manage to control their blood pressure.
Other factors for the rise in hypertension cases are the increase in incidences of obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy food choices, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption.
Following COVID-19, many people have switched to working from home. This has led to a further reduction of physical activity, irregular food timings, and unhealthy sleep, which all contribute to ill-health.
One should not forget that diabetes, which is very high in India, is also a major risk factor in this context.
As for the younger generation, driven by peer pressure to look fit, most of them are pushing themselves to the extremes to get quick results. The toned up muscles, which everyone desires, can only be developed with the help of supplements apart from lifting heavy weights. These supplements often get contaminated with anabolic steroids, which are harmful when taken in heavy doses for a considerable period.
The high-intensity interval workouts (HIIT) increase heart rate and blood pressure and puts stress on the heart. Every organ needs time to adapt to the new demands. Taking a break and allowing the body to recover is equally important while working out. Alas, this is seldom appreciated and is not included in the workout schedule.
Complementary foods, which are combined with alcohol intake, are high in salt content and rich in saturated fats, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Binge drinking of alcohol leads to rhythm abnormalities. Although we are aware of the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ an increased awareness can help prevent adverse health issues.
A healthy lifestyle and supervised physical activity can prevent one from falling victim to CVD. Knowing about risk factors and taking the responsibility to keep them under control holds the key.
- Dr. Praneeth Polamuri,
Consultant - Interventional cardiologist,