Study On Preventive Cardiac Care Awareness And Lifestyle Habits Titled ‘Making India Heartstrong’

Indians are also ignorant of risks associated with high blood pressure as 50 percent respondents do not see high BP as the biggest risk factor for heart disease.

Photo Credit : PTI,

The ’Making India Heartstrong Study’ took responses from 600 people in 6 cities across 4 states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) to evaluate the awareness levels amongst Indians around CVD risk assessment and relationship between their work/lifestyle, habits. The study was conducted in view of the growing numbers of heart and diabetes risk across different age groups in India. It was imperative to analyse metro cities versus tier 1 or tier 2 city risk assessment of diabetes and heart diseases.

  • 38% of respondents are at increased risk of high BMI without knowing or realising it.
  • 88% Indians did not know that high cholesterol may lead to heart disease.
  • 59% Indians prefer Google over a physician for making health-based decisions
  • About 8 out 10 Indians are prone to Cardio-vascular disease risk due to low HDL
  • 90% of Indians are not aware that hardening of arteries is one of the heart diseases

38 percent of Indians who believe they are healthy have been found suffering from diabetes, reveals the study. While another 28 percent healthy individual have been diagnosed with pre-diabetics based on their HbA1c levels. Hence, two third are either having CVD risk or risk prone.

In addition, 50 percent Indians are unaware that diabetes and Obesity are the most closely associated risk factors with heart diseases. A whopping 88% do not know that high cholesterol may lead to heart disease. Surprisingly, Mumbai even being a top metro city ranks lowest (14%) in terms of awareness towards the association between diabetes and heart diseases. On the contrary, Hyderabad (45%) followed by Vijaywada (43%) appears to be most aware. The survey shows that only a small fraction of Indians (10%) knows that hardening of arteries fell under the umbrella of heart diseases.

“Prevalence of hardening of arteries is on the rise, particularly in younger population owing to the changes in their lifestyle and food habits. Research studies show that coronary stenosis, which is associated with hardening of arteries, affects nearly 30% population. So, it is time we pay attention towards our lifestyle to prevent our risk of developing such diseases, ” says Dr Charan Lanjewar, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist & Associate Professor (Unit Head) at G.S Medical College & K.E.M Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.

The findings are significant in view that people with diabetes are known to have a two to four times increased risk of coronary arterial disease (CAD) risk. CAD has also been reported to occur two to three decades earlier in diabetic subjects as opposed to their non-diabetic counterparts.

“It is unfortunate that in a country where diabetes is on the verge of becoming an epidemic, people are still ignorant about the implications of diabetes. It is important to understand that diabetes has no cure. But it can be managed or kept in check with a right combination of healthy foods and regular physical activity. And, remember it’s going to be a lifetime regimen. So, just make it a habit and watch out for aggravating symptoms.” Said Dr. Tejas Shah, Diabetologist, IVA Speciality Clinic & Diabetes Center, Mumbai.

Indians are also ignorant of risks associated with high blood pressure as 50 percent respondents do not see high BP as the biggest risk factor for heart disease. Nashik shows least concern with High BP as CVD risk factor whereas Vijayawada, another tier 2 city indicates high concern (81%) towards the same.

On BMI base, only 26 percent are normal, 29 percent are overweight and 19 percent are Obese. This is highly varied from the self assessment of overweight (including Obese) which is mentioned just 10% percent. This indicates that nearly 38 percent of respondents are at high risk without knowing or realising it. City-wise analysis shows that only 4 percent respondents in Mumbai perceive them as obese while a highest 55 percent of those in Chennai put them in obese category.

On the lifestyle front, there is an equal spread of all types from sedentary to physical work. Physical work type is prevailed more in tier 2 than tier 1 cities, with an average of 45 percent and 17 percent respectively. Nearly 40 percent Indians do only mild exercises, something that explains the higher incidence of obesity to the same extent. It is also observed that nowadays, the respondents of tier 2 cities are leading a more sedentary lifestyle than of tier-1 cities.

Talking about the good thing, half of the respondents think that focussing on regular physical activity and a healthy diet can help prevent rise of CVD disorders among young people. Madurai (55%) appears to be most aware while Nashik (25%) has been reported least aware. However, it is sad that only 17 percent Indians feel the need of making routine visits to your doctor. It is heartbreaking that 59 percent prefer Google for general health awareness or making health-based decisions such as visiting to a doctor or going for health screening tests followed by another one third preferring WhatsApp.

Besides survey participation, the respondents have partaken in blood glucose and Lipid profiling test which reveals the survey findings in line with their diagnostic parameters. Apart from HbA1c diagnostic parameter, elevated triglycerides and poor HDL are other important parameters that need to be taken into account while taking preventive and corrective measures.

Elevated Triglycerides prevail due to having carbohydrate base staple food habits. tier 1 is observed with better Triglycerides scores than tier 2 as the staple food habits is the most common in tier 2 cities.

HDL prevalence is major concern which is due to lack of physical work or sedentary life style. 4 out of 10 are having low HDL which indicates the great concern.

Interestingly, tier 2 cities have more concerns due to low HDL than tier 1 cities as against common belief. It is observed more sedentary life style crippled among all upcoming tier 2 cities while tier 1 is able to manage just due to better awareness. Hence, the study indicates the tier 2 cities even including Hyderabad need more and better education and awareness creation.

Overall, the survey raises questions about Indians’ awareness and understanding of cardiovascular diseases and importance of a healthy lifestyle. In view of the rising number of CVD risk & diabetic population in the country, there is a high chance of individuals to develop cardiovascular disorders. The study warrantsthe need of spreading the awareness and press on the importance of making the desired life style changes to lead healthy living.


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