CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) is taking its toll in our country in a big way. It is said that India has the infamous distinction of being the Heart Disease Capital of the world. Well known Cardiologist and Associate Editor of Indian Heart Journal, Dr. Ajay Kr. Sinha, who is also a fellow of European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and of American College of Cardiology (ACC), says:

"Heart diseases originate in human mind, seeds being negative thoughts like greed, jealousy, hatred, anger and depression due to frustration. When sown in genetically fertile soil, seeds grow into tree with ramification (disease), manure being tobacco, high blood pressure and high blood sugar in otherwise conducive atmosphere (obesity and physical inactivity).80% of cardiovascular disease are preventable and modifiable. He further says, "Heart disease is often avoidable. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't mean you need to live a life of self-deprivation. Instead, find ways to incorporate heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle — and you may well enjoy a healthier life for years to come."

Some interesting and revealing facts related to heart disease are enumerated below for the benefit of one and all:

How big is the problem?

1. India is the home of 60% of world's heart patients -- Highest in the world.
2. Every year more than 30 lac people die of CVD in India.
3. About 33% of deaths in the age bracket of 25 to 69 years occur in urban areas whereas it is about 23% in rural areas.
4. Indians are more susceptible than any other ethnic groups-- 3.4 times more than Americans, 6 times more than Chinese, 20 times more than Japanese.
5. Ironically, large number of young people is joining the fold of heart patients in India.
6. Majority of all deaths due to heart attacks occur before victims could reach a hospital.

Why should Indians be more worried?

1. Indians are more prone to CVD than other ethnic group.
2. Get the disease at much younger age - 5 to 10 years earlier than other communities.
3. Disease follows more severe and malignant course - 3 times higher rate of second heart attack and two times higher mortality than whites.
4. There is serious awareness problem across the population in general.
5. Both preventive as well as curative medical facilities are grossly inadequate.

What are the symptoms of Heart Disease?

1. It may be possible that there are no apparent symptoms for a long period. (For such group of people, it is advisable to go for periodical checkup- at least once in a year more particularly for men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 50 years.)
2. Chest pain for short period on exertion also known as Angina occurs when the heart muscle is starved for oxygen. In fact, the classic symptom of a heart attack is deep, crushing pain centred beneath the breastbone and radiating to left shoulder and arm. However, the pain due to a heart attack may radiate to one's back, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, right arm or even teeth. Myocardial Infarction or major heart attack accompanies severe chest pain, death of heart muscle, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats.

What to do first?

Anyone with persistent or recurrent chest pain should consult the doctor immediately. Smokers, diabetics, people who are obese or sedentary, people with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or known heart disease and individuals with a family history of heart disease should seek immediate medical care in the event of chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, irregular pulse or other worrisome symptoms due to their increased risk for heart attack.

Painfully, however, many people with heart disease either do not recognize or fail to act on the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack thereby pushing them in a fatal and critical position.

How to Prevent Heart Disease?

Awareness is no doubt half the solution. However, precisely speaking, maintaining a healthy life style is basically the key to minimize, if not ward off completely, the risk of CVD. The principle of 'Looking before Eating' works wonders. Hence, it is suggested that you:

1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. (5 servings - they are naturally low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals and antioxidants). Eat colored vegetables and fruits.
2. Eat a variety of grain products.
3. Choose non-fat or low-fat products.
4. Use less fat meats- chicken, fish and lean cuts.
5. Switch to fat-free milk—toned/skimmed milk.

Equally important is to walk briskly for half an hour or engage himself in moderately vigorous activity each day preferably in morning as it lowers total cholesterol, helps control diabetes and hypertension, reduces incidence of obesity to name a few. Scientific evidence does show that mortality is halved in retired men who walk more than two miles every day. It is also found that regular physical exercise including brisk walking helps individuals recovering from heart attacks and bypass surgery and lowers their risk of suffering a second heart attack. In nutshell, becoming physically more active thereby increasing your physical as well as mental fitness will improve your chances of living a longer and healthier life.

Today is the WORLD HEART DAY. So, it’s an occasion to pause and ponder over this serious issue to keep our Heart Healthy. And lastly, enjoy what Nelson Mandela says, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

milan sinhaMilan K. Sinha is a freelance writer. He has worked in Banking and Insurance sector for three decades following three years of active writing in various newspapers and magazines. Presently he is engaged in stress management, wellness and awareness activities besides freelance writing. He is based in Patna and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.