New Delhi: On World Heart Day, several public health experts raised concern over the dual challenges being faced by patients with cardiovascular disease amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Heart patients are more prone to develop serious complications and not seeking treatment or lack of immediate attention due to fear of catching the virus could spell doom for them.
According to (Colonel) Monik Mehta, Chief of Cardiology at Gurugram's Columbia Asia Hospital, the fear of getting infected by the Coronavirus is keeping heart patients indoors and disrupting their scheduled check-ups at a time when ischemic heart disease has emerged as the biggest cause of death among Indians.
"This may push the mortality caused by cardiovascular disease further up," he added.
There is a grave interlink between comorbidities and coronavirus infection. Patients with coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive lung, carcinoma, chronic kidney disease have higher chance of succumbing to the disease.
Cardiovascular diseases have become the leading cause of mortality in India. On average, over 170 lakh people die from heart-related illnesses every year. This is more than the number that dies from HIV, malaria, and cancer.
Delhi-based doctor Kamal Narayan, CEO of IHW Council, echoed similar claims that heart care has become most important during the COVID times as having a heart disease can make the infection more severe in the person. "Moreover, COVID-19 virus can cause significant damage to the heart, as we have seen cases in India and other countries as well."
Sanjeev Gupta, Senior Cardiologist at Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals said that during the ongoing pandemic, there has been a rise in the complication of heart ailments, which is because of the fact that many patients have not consumed their prescribed heart medication and as a result heart problems worsened, and we observed an increase in the number of cases.
"Therefore, the best way to prevent heart attack is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including daily aerobic physical activity of 45 minutes, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding smoking. It's a myth that anxiety and depression can lead to heart attack, but they do facilitate heart disease," Gupta added.
About 25 to 30 per cent mortality in our country is attributable to heart attacks, brain strokes and heart failure. The Global Burden of disease in India is estimated at an age-standardized death rate of 272 per 100,000 population. It is higher than the global average of 235 per 100,000 populations. The other peculiarities in our country are a younger age at presentation, an accelerated course of disease and high mortality.
P.R. Sodani, Pro-President at Indian Institute of Health Management Research said that the heart diseases in India have increased exponentially and according to the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative report, ischemic heart disease became the leading individual cause of death in the country in 2016 and one of the top diseases to have considerable disease burden as well.
"This can have a serious impact on the economy of the country as well, for a UN report projects that the increasing number of people developing heart diseases can cost India $6.2 trillion by 2030. Given that India aims to become a 5-trillion-dollar economy by 2024, such a cost can substantially damage the prospects. It is for the sake of our economy that we need to take care of our people," said Sodani.
D.K. Jhamb, Director and HOD Cardiology at Gurugram's Paras Hospitals said that the pandemic has made people cautious about their health. "We should ensure that our heart remains healthy in such unprecedented times. One should make sure that they are exercising well while being indoors as gyms are still closed. You can go to safe areas outside like nearby parks when there is relatively less rush so that you can exercise enough to prevent rise in blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and body weight."
World Heart Day is aimed at drawing people's attention towards heart illness and the range of associated health issues.