World Heart day 2022 Special: The prevalence of non-communicable diseases is rising alarmingly across the world. Last week, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that every two seconds, one person under the age of 70 dies of non-communicable disease (NCD) with 86 percent of those deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Meanwhile, in India over 66 percent of the total deaths were due to NCDs in 2019, the report revealed. Studies suggest that India also has a huge burden of cardiovascular diseases which is an important NCD.
In India, cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death. On the occasion of World Heart Day, Financial Express.com reached out to leading cardiologist Dr. Rajneesh Kapoor and he highlighted various aspects of heart diseases in India. During the conversation, Dr. Kapoor who is the Director of Interventional Cardiology, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon, pointed out the current generation is under immense stress which leads to bad lifestyle habits and ultimately poor heart health. He also informed that lack of sleep is also coming up as a new risk factor for potential heart attacks, especially among young people.
“I recently conducted a study where I wanted to understand and analyse the newer risk factors of heart diseases. Astonishingly, in that study, one new risk factor was lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is now a new triggering factor. If somebody is sleeping less than six hours, that person is sleep deprived. Your mind and heart are not relaxed and you are always in that mode where your heart rate is high and blood pressure is high and this leads to heart attacks. These changes have happened in the past 10 years and we really need to introspect. In the study, I analysed the profile of 120 patients with acute heart attacks who were less than 40 years of age over the last 3-4 years and who came to Medanta for various heart procedures. While we were jotting down the risk profiles of the patients we found that 75 percent of these patients were actually sleep deprived. They were only sleeping 4-5 hours in a day,” Dr. Kapoor told Financial Express.com.
Dr. Kapoor emphasised that sleep is important as once we sleep our pulse goes down and blood pressure goes down and this gives some respite to the heart. “Everyone should sleep for at least 7 hours daily preferably in one go and if you can’t then split it throughout the day,” he added.
He also informed that India has a huge epidemic of heart diseases as almost every household is affected with some kind of heart disease.
“There is a huge epidemic of heart diseases surrounding us. Almost every household is affected by some kind of heart disease. There are various types of heart diseases prevalent in India but the most worrisome and concerning heart disease is Coronary Artery Disease. The blockages which are formed in this disease are a precursor for Angina, Unstable Angina, and heart attacks. So, that is the most disturbing factor. The further concern is, these coronary artery disease patients are not limited to certain age groups. 20 years ago, the age group affected by this disease was more than 50-60 years old. Now we are seeing a lot of younger patients who are affected by this disease. Coronary artery disease is on the rampant rise. Other than that there are many diseases like High Blood Pressure and Hypertension. Hypertension is also leading to certain changes in the heart architecture with the due course over the long term. Cardiomyopathy is a kind of idiopathic heart dysfunction without any known cause. Usually, this happens post viral infection like COVID-19 was such a big problem in India. So, post-covid we actually had a lot of patients who came with heart dysfunction. This heart dysfunction was not because by coronary blockages. These are muscular problems. There are a few more like Arrhythmias in which the heart rhythms go berserk and abnormal and which require a special device or procedure to treat it,” Dr. Kapoor informed.
On the rise of heart attacks among the younger population, Dr. Kapoor pointed out that this due to extreme stress and unhealthy habits caused due to various personal and professional reasons.
“This is a very big problem happening in our society. We have witnessed so many deaths happening in the last couple of months. We lost singer KK, Raju Shrivastava due to a heart attack. There are many Bollywood stars like Siddarth Shukla. This is a disturbing trend that more and more young people are getting hit by big heart attacks. The reason behind this I think today’s young generation is highly aspirational which is good but you have to organised ambitious. You should be ambitious to fix up your goals and then follow to achieve those goals. Set a time frame also. Suppose, you want to achieve a goal in two years, plan over two years. Today’s generation wants to achieve that two-year goal in two months and that is where the discrepancy is and it leads to a lot of stress. So, the stress level in today’s generation is extremely high. Its because of job stresses, target achievement stress, and the comparison with peers. In India, this is again a typical problem. This stress leads to a bad lifestyle as people will turn to smoke, drug abuse, and all these things affect our health and the young generation is highly vulnerable to this,” Dr. Kapoor said.
According to Dr. Kapoor, if a person is having some discomfort, any atypical discomfort but recurrent discomfort or some heaviness over the chest which goes to the left arm or some acidity-like symptom which is recurring, then they should not ignore this. “This is where the real challenge remains that if the person starts ignoring these symptoms and not getting themselves checked for heart disease, then they may get a sudden heart attack,” he said.
He also emphasised that people above the age of 40 years with risk factors like smoking habits, family history, high blood pressure or diabetes should go for annual screening tests annually.
“These tests are very simple: fasting sugar, fasting lipid profile, and stress echo. If the person is not having these risk factors, then one can take it slightly more easily. They can start the annual check-up beyond the age of 45-50 years,” he added.
Dr. Kapoor also highlighted that he witnessing a rise in cases of heart attacks, especially among the younger population.
“Currently, in our emergency department, day in and day out we get 5-6 heart attack caases every day. Earlier, the trend was those heart attacks were prevalent among people more than 50 years old. Now we are getting people as young as 25 years old. Usually, all these people are executives working at big MNCs and when you check the patient’s profile, they are smoking and sleeping less. I recently conducted a study where I wanted to understand and analyse the newer risk factors of heart diseases. In that study one new risk factor was lack of sleep,” Dr. Kapoor told Financial Express.com.
Various studies have also pointed out that there is a rise in cases of high blood pressure among children. On this, Dr. Kapoor said: “Yes and it is very disturbing. We are seeing many school-going children with the blood pressure of 150-160 systolic and 90 diastolic. The reason is very straightforward physical activities among kids is declining. These kids are usually on gadgets and remain confined to the house. If you visit the school canteens you will see that the food are usually fried. Also, hypertension is the biggest silent killer. It’s damaging your heart slowly and within 5-10 years you may get heart problems.”
Dr. Kapoor also pointed out that India has advanced a lot with respect to cardiac care and treatment procedures.
“Various kinds of devices are used for various kinds of procedures in India. For rhythm problems, there are pacemakers. Now we have specialised pacemakers that are used to treat heart dysfunctions. The biggest miracle that has happened over the last few years is if there are valve problems in the heart we can actually change the valves. We can now put the new valves without any surgery. So, this is really encouraging and has changed the way we have been doing the cardiological treatments in the past,” he said.
He also emphasised that there is still a lot to do to make various advanced procedures accessible to all sections of society.
“We have all the infrastructure, skills, and expertise to deal with all kinds of complex cases at par with the western world. We are doing all kinds of innovative procedures and irony in India and only 5 percent of the population is able to utilise these procedures because of the cost constraints. I feel the government of India has taken multiple schemes like Ayushman and has put a cap on some procedures so that people with a lower economic background can also utilise these procedures and it is getting more and more effective. But still, there is a lot to do. I feel one way is that the insurance blanket needs to be widened and the premiums of the insurance should come down and then these procedures can be utilised by more people,” Dr. Kapoor told Financial Express.com.
Here are some of the dos and don’ts suggested by Dr. Rajneesh Kapoor for maintaining a healthy heart:
- Exercise daily.
- Jogging, brisk walking, or some kind of cardiac activity should be done daily.
- Have a good diet.
- No smoking. Smoking is very bad.
- Manage your stress well.
- Keep smiling and it liberates a lot of good hormones.
If you do these things, you will push back heart diseases by 30 to 40 percent, Dr. Kapoor said.