NEW DELHI: A unique set of data generated by Indian researchers has put numbers to a trend physicians have been warning about for long — Delhi-NCR is heading towards an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), chiefly heart attack and stroke cases, due to increase in prevalence of alcohol use, obesity and raised blood pressure (BP) over the past 20 years.
And the trend has been visible among both urban middle class and their rural counterparts, said doctors. Alcohol use, for example, has gone up from 16.1% to 25.6% among urban dwellers. In rural areas, the increase is nearly four times — from 8% to 33.2%.
Prevalence of body mass index (BMI) and BP, two other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, among urban men and women aged 35-64 years, has gone up from 24.4kg/m2 to 26kg/m2 and 121.2/74.3mm/hg to 129.8/83.9mm/hg, show the data published in the latest issue of Global Heart, a reputed medical journal.
The surveys were conducted in two phases to find the 20-year trend for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. “For the urban data, we went to households in whole of Delhi. Rural data was collected from Ballabgarh blocks of the adjoining state of Haryana,” said D Prabhakaran, an epidemiologist who led the research. Endocrinologists, cardiologists and community medicine specialists from AIIMS were also part of the research group.
A person with BMI over 25kg/m2 is defined as overweight and at risk for CVD. Similarly, those having BP levels above 140/90mm/hg are considered at risk for CVD which is defined as group of disorders of the heart or blood vessels, and include mainly hypertensive, ischaemic, rheumatic and cerebrovascular heart disease or strokes. It is estimated that one in every four deaths in India is attributable to CVD. If steps are not taken to prevent the risk factors from increasing, morbidity and mortality due to CVD may go up, said Prabhakaran.
India has witnessed a rapid economic transition since 1991. Researchers said that post-liberalisation, the country saw rapid urbanisation, rural-to-urban migration, and changes in diet and lifestyle that could be behind the increase in prevalence of risk factors for CVD.
“We need an inter-ministerial approach to fight this impending crisis of CVD epidemic. While the health ministry can work on infrastructure growth for timely screening and treatment of patients with CVD, the urban development ministry can come with planning for more space to play and walk so there is increased physical activity and the HRD ministry can come up with awareness campaign in schools to publicise preventive steps at school and college level,” said Dr Nikhil Tandon, head of the endocrinology department at AIIMS who was also part of the study. The age at which CVD strikes has also come down, he said.
Courtesy: Durgesh Nandan Jha, The Times of India