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‘Heart disease set to spike in India, especially in the south’

New Delhi: India is set to witness a spike in deaths due to heart diseases, far exceeding that of China, with more and more younger people falling victim and a large percentage of patients coming from south India, said an expert.

Dr Harsh Mahajan

According to well-known radiologist Dr Harsh Mahajan, by 2020 India will have more than 4.77 million deaths a year due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 2.58 million deaths due to coronary heart diseases (CHD).

China, which has the world’s largest population at 1.34 billion, will have 4.53 million deaths due to CVD and 1.37 million due to CHD by 2020. The figures are from the Global Burden of Diseases Study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

While north Indian states — including Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh — have a high percentage of people suffering from heart diseases, south Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have a higher prevalence of CHD, he said quoting from a study.

“In south India, a lot of people are vegetarian. But vegetarianism is no safeguard. In fact, coconut oil leads to heart diseases,” Dr Mahajan said at a talk on Tuesday evening at the India International Centre here.

“In 2004, 14 per cent of total deaths in India were due to heart diseases… and the percentage keeps rising,” said Dr Mahajan, president of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) and founder of the city’s well-known Mahajan Imaging Centre.

Unlike the “mistaken thought” that heart pain occurs on the left side of the chest, the expert said it occurs in the middle of the chest, and some patients could also feel pain in the shoulder, elbow and jaw. This could be accompanied by shortness of breath, a feeling of light-headedness and even severe sweating.

“It is important to recognize the symptoms, and act… even if it seems a case of overkill,” said Dr Mahajan.

“I am not saying we should get over-anxious, but let us not ignore the symptoms. The first hour is when most of the deaths occur. It may be worth going to the doctor even if it turns out to be a false alarm,” Dr Mahajan said.

Diabetic patients don’t get the pain indicative of a heart attack coming on “because their nerves get deadened”, he said. “Diabetics may never feel chest pain at all.”

Other signs to watch out for are the feelings of constriction and discomfort while jogging or running. “When you feel something you’ve never felt before, if you have any problem while active that is relieved by rest, you need to see the doctor.”

While coronary heart diseases are due to arteries getting narrowed due to blockages, Dr Mahajan said, “60-70 per cent of heart attack patients don’t get significant narrowing of arteries”.

“It is generally patients who have 30-40 per cent blockage with plaque deposits, who are most prone to heart attacks,” Dr Mahajan said.

Listing the efficacy of testing mechanisms, Dr Mahajan said ECG/EKG (Electrocardiography) shows up an angina, while X-rays are useful in detecting abnormalities in heart size.

The treadmill test “is not a great test if done in isolation,” said Dr Mahajan.

According to the expert, the best machine is the Dual Energy GSI Spectral CT Scanner, which his laboratory has introduced in India — the first to do so.

It is a non-invasive test, which can look inside the heart and vessels — even at the stents to see their condition; it can see the plaque deposits. “It is the ultimate tool. Each and every millimetre of the arteries and segment can be seen, as well as the plaque,” Dr Mahajan said.

Japan is the only other country in Asia to have a similar machine, which has just got the US FDA approval. The radiology exposure due to the machine is negligible, he said.

The machine provides 128 slices of imaging of the body. The cost of an imaging is Rs 15,000.

Cardiovascular diseases would be the largest cause of death and disability in India by 2020 as per a WHO report.

By 2030, it is expected that 23 million people will die from CVDs annually. [Source: IANS]

One Comment

  1. Prof. Manoj Sharma Prof. Manoj Sharma Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Long back I have seen a cardiologist who could recognize the medium of cooking in patient’s house by seeing coronary angiogram. For south and west he blamed peanut oil.

    The Irony is if some one is recovering from deprivation and hunger his first priority is cardiotoxic food.

    Then also run and anti obesity industry and then make a hue and cry if it is threatened with closure due to changing life styles ….similar to tobacco industry where worries are more due to un employment of tobacco workers and not the deaths it causes.

    I have been flag hoisting what I Call Anti Cancer Agroforestry and Metropolitan greenery cum agro-forestry programme, this is for last 25 years now and Olive Agroforestry had been the main theme with public horticulture as attached to Message from Geeta……..

    Karmanye Vadhi kaaraste Maa Phaleshu kadachana…कर्मण्येवाधि कारस्ते माँ फलेषु कदाचन

    Phal yadi kis aur ke pet me jae to Geeta ka dharma manane wale ko bhala isski chinta kyon satae..
    फल यदि किस्सी और के पेट में जाये तो इस की चिंता गीता धर्मं या ज़कात का धर्मं मानाने वाले को भला क्यों सताए
    Foolishly enough we have not promoted Olive plantation in our country in collaboration with South European and North African countries. A large chunk of our land is in the same latitude and altitude as these countries and a huge area down south and in North east districts favours Olive plantation, Udhakmandalm and Assam, Haldwani nursery in Uttaranchal do have olive of the sorts and not enough to save 4000 crore worth of import of olive and olive products. The imports that have gone up due to popularity of Italian and French foods.

    ON urgent basis a MOU should be reached/ signed with olive sapling exporting countries so that the ban on bringing it due to quarantine laws can be taken care of for enthusiasts like us. Let Rajsthan alone not be the place for this explorative adventurism.

    I have one growing pretty well in Varanasi brought from SPLAJ ( Muammer Gaddafi’s Libyan Arab Jemehiriya) and had one brought from Italy still have two from Haldwani, do not know where to plant in land as I have no farm house or land. My RWA association is Antichrist- anti environment and has uprooted thousands of similar plants and trees worth lacks of rupees in recent months. the carnage took three months to complete and is still continuing by some members of Pragateesheel Mahila Samiti of RWA. They want more space for parking and they have fear that burglars aiming the residential flats may hide in bushy green surroundings.
    I wish honestly that All Cardiology Associations of India and All Oncological Associations of India may bring my dream tue when people will plant Olive saplings in addition to what they habitually do with Banana, Mango Guava and other fruit bearing plants.

    One of the Important task force of medically powerful men in society is to make sure that the nurserties keep low cost Olive saplings . Scenario may change then!!

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