Urban Indians face greater heart disease risk
A sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and poor eating habits are making millions of urban Indians face a high risk of heart disease, a study by a Mumbai-based consumer products major has revealed.
Urban India is moving to lifestyle diseases from infectious diseases due to a sedentary life, poor healthy food and lack of physical activity, Apollo Hospitals cardiologist Girish B. Navasundi told IANS, citing the Marico Ltd study conducted online in 12 cities across the country during the last two fiscal years (2010-12).
Noting that the hectic lifestyle in cities was making more young Indians prone to cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, hypertension and cancer, Navasundi said lack of physical activity and reduced fibre intake through whole grains were the two main reasons for high risk of heart and life-threatening diseases.
Around 74 percent of urban Indians face the risk of heart attack, with their heart age greater than biological age. Similarly, 75 percent of males in the 30-34 age group have coronary symptoms compared to 57 percent females, showing how younger male work force is falling prey to such diseases, Navasundi pointed out.
As a result, productivity of urban India will decline with an adverse impact on the country's growth in the long-term.
The 'Saffola life study 2012' , carried out on the lines of the US-based Framingham heart study, covered over 112,000 people in the 30-80 age group across a dozen cities.
The Framingham heart study is a project of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University in Massachusetts.
Among the metros, Bangalore ranked at the top for high cholesterol levels, Chennai for diabetes, Kolkata for cancer due to highest number of smokers, Ahmedabad for anemia due to poor intake of fruits and Delhi for obesity due to lack of exercise and high consumption of fatty foods.
Around 75 percent of Bangalore respondents facing CVD risk are overweight, with 78 percent of them having very high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, as 72 percent of them consume less than two servings of healthy whole grains, Navasundi said.
Terming the survey findings a wake-up call for all stakeholders, Nutritionists Republic consultant Manjari Chandra said CVD deaths were projected to touch a whopping 2.5 million by 2020 from 1.1 million in 1990, with a majority of them from the productive working age group (30-44).
Nationally, 59 percent of those surveyed in the 30-49 age group has high risk levels of cholesterol and 61 percent in the 30-49 age group has dangerously low levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol, Chandra told IANS.
Among the respondents, one in six were smokers in the younger age group.
Smoking increases blood pressure and releases free radicals which are detrimental to heart health. In the 30-34 age group, 96 percent disclosed that they were taking medication for controlling blood pressure to minimise the risk of developing CVD, Navasundi noted.
Cautioning against high dependence on processed and fried foods, Chandra said a menu devoid of vegetables, fruits and whole grains make people vulnerable to heart disease.
Of the respondents in the 30-49 age group, 66 percent reported higher heart age than actual age due to obesity and rise in their body mass index, showing an increasing trend as the age increased.
At the national level, about 70 percent of respondents are obese and Delhi emerged as the overweight capital with highest rate of wider waists, followed by Kochi, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Delhi also emerged as the fried-food capital with 14 percent participants admitting to consuming this more than four times a week.
During the last three years, Marico carried out free cholesterol checks and conducted free diagnostic tests on those who were unaware of their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
"The objective of the survey is to spread awareness of the heart ailments risk in the country and make a holistic attempt to reduce deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases," a Marico official told IANS.
The study also found that 64 percent of respondents in the 30-34 age group were at the risk of developing CVD, indicating that a significant proportion of youngsters face heart disease.
"In people between 40 and 44 years of age, the percentage of 'at risk' population goes up to about 80 percent," the study noted.
As far as dietary habits and lifestyles go, it is the 40-44 years age group which is highly negligent.
"Low consumption of fruits, vegetables/salads, whole grains together with low levels of physical activity will affect heart health," the survey warned.
The CVD risk is uniform across cities with Bangalore and Delhi struggling with bad cholesterol, whereas Mumbai and Ahmedabad are failing to maintain a good cholesterol level.
Physical activity is at an all-time low. Ahmedabad was found to be the worst mover in both physical activity and consumption of fruits.
(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)