In the past, the deadly diseases were limited in number like Malaria, plague, measles, cholera etc. and they used to attack infrequently even though they would claim the very life of an individual. Of course, when such a killer disease used to break out, the Government would immediately take necessary preventive and curative action by means of anti-virus injections etc. These vaccines are now given in both Government and private hospitals periodically so as to prevent the diseases from attacking us.
Besides the above, in these days of non-infectious diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure, cancer, heart disease etc. ,10 people die every second in India. Another research reveals that out of a crore of people who die due to various diseases, nearly 52 L people die due to these non-infectious diseases. Yet another data from WHO mentions that, of the various non-infectious diseases, the heart disease claims 25 L human lives in the world.
Earlier, people above the age of 50 to 60 only used to get heart disease but whereas nowadays, even youngsters of 20 years and above are easily getting and suffering from heart ailment. The technical jargons like stent, angiogram, angioplasty, vascular access device, pacemaker and bypass etc. have now become household names. Young people develop this problem even before they start their married life and once they become a victim, they have no alternative but to undertake surgery and take tablets till rest of the life. We must understand the basic factors responsible for the occurrence of heart disease at such a young age.
Dr.Chocklingam, heart specialist views that it is all due to the change in the life style of people. Earlier, our people had complete discipline over food habit and mental control. Food itself was like medicine for them. The essence was that they used to have good and nutritious food, hard work and adequate rest. For instance, those who used to work in hot sun, would consume Pearl millet pulp (Kambu koozh)or ragi porridge and calories will be burnt. Our forefathers were in the habit of taking balanced diet; as well, they kept away from bad habits with utmost control and hence they were able to lead a disease-free life.
On the contrary, nowadays there is no discipline with regard to diet, especially amongst the youngsters as a result of which they suffer from obesity, diabetes and heart disease right from their young age.
The research conducted at the clinic of Dr.Chockalingam among 300 heart patients who are less than 35 years, reveals that the primary reason for their heart disease is ‘smoking’. It is sad to note that India is one country where the habit of smoking is picked up from boyhood stage itself. Added to this misery, it lends the disease to the passive smokers too.
Next only to smoking is the food habit that leads to heart ailment. It must be realized that there is a definite and positive connection between the type of food that we take and the weather in which we live. Normally, rice is the staple food in the south while it is wheat in the north. Based on this only, people are able to exert physically. However, food habit has now vastly changed and our system is not in a position to accept the change and the undigested fat content gets deposited in the body, resulting in unwanted obesity. This is precisely found out as one of the reasons in the form of LDL fat content in the blood vessel.
The third reason happens to be ‘stress’ which has been affecting the youngsters very much. Particularly, after the IT revolution and globalization, the way of living of IT professionals has hugely changed. Job and life seem to have become inseparable. The resultant stress affects not only the health of the individuals but also their family life to a great extent.
The above apart, there are other reasons like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. In modern times, there is no scope for physical exercise. People avoid even climbing the stairs. Once they enter their office, they get wedded to their systems and there is no respite at all. Least care only is given to one’s health.
At the global level, people below 35 years suffering from heart problem form 5 to 6% but in India it is easily 12 to 15% which is alarming. Dr.Chockalingam strongly advocates that youngsters should lead a simple life devoid of bad habits such as smoking, drinking, etc. They should also learn stress management and maintain physical fitness and above all, they should ensure their food habit suitable to our weather conditions. Only then, the current generation will be able to overcome the problem of heart disease in their life.
As regards women, they are prone to the attack of heart disease only after they attain menopause, probably after their 50 years. Till then, the oestrogen hormone will take care of their heart. However, it is found that nowadays, young women in their twenties and forties become heart patients for which the primary reason is their food habit. Moreover, the working women undergo lot of tension and stress resulting in high level of mental depression and exhaustion. This is responsible for the occurrence of heart disease among the women.
The senior heart specialist Dr.J.K.Periasami opines that compared to other countries, Asians suffer from heart disease more due to genetic and hereditary reasons.
It is found that the size of the blood vessel of people living in United States and western countries is 3 mm to 4 mm but whereas it is just 2.50 mm only in the case of people in India. When our heart beats once, it means that 70 to 80 ml. blood gets pumped into our body. Our heart beats 70 to 80 times in a minute during which time, an average of 5 lt.blood is being pumped into our body by the heart.
Since our blood vessels are comparatively narrower, even a minimum cholesterol itself causes the block. Hence, on genetic ground itself, Indians should do lot more of physical exercises. It is ideal for one to walk at least 3 kms a day, as done by our forefathers. If we do on this basis, the quantum of blood that will be pumped into the heart will increase like 7-8 lt. a minute. This will expand the blood vessels and also the accumulated cholesterol will vanish automatically.
Nowadays, walking itself has become rare among us. Wherever we want to go, we invariably kick start and go by a two-wheeler. Some people who do certain physical exercises mostly do them for fashion cause. Rather, those exercises are not relevant for the heart and health. Many people throng the gym but for a different purpose.
It is habitual for us to show Americans as example – right or wrong! However, as far as this physical fitness is concerned, we must really follow the footsteps of Americans. For instance, they will never work on week-ends howevermuch compensation is provided; instead, they will take care of their health and family during week-ends. We must necessarily change our habit from being a workaholic all the seven days.
Dr.J.K.Periaswami warns that India is in a vulnerable position as far as heart disease is concerned. According to one report of World Health Organization, India ranks first in having most number of heart patients in the world. Nearly 60 years ago, only 2 had heart disease out of 100 but whereas now it is easily 14 out of 100 and it is expected to rise to 20 in 2020. The situation will be alarming if we do not control the same now.
As a remedial measure, we must learn to reduce mental tension and pressure. Right from school-going children to office-going public, there is hectic competition and the resultant pressure is acute. It is but important for everyone to release the tension and pressure by being open-minded, positive and fun-loving in general. We can share the burdensome responsibilities among our colleagues and lighten ourselves.
Dr.Chitra Aravind, psychiatrist, mentions that many people neglect the present and work harder for future challenges with a view to earning more money by somehow or the other. As a result, they skip their timely meal and rest and their mental depression gets automatically increased. This gives room for blood pressure, obesity etc. Instead of this way of living, if they concentrate on the aspect of spending their time with family and present day enjoyment along with good and timely food intake, they will be healthy and fit. This is one sure way to overcome the pressure of heart disease.
Modern life is like a race till 40; at the same time, when we reach 40 our heart becomes 70 years old and weak. One cannot enjoy the life after 40 and hence take care of your heart first to have a healthy life in the longrun.
(This article written in Tamil by V Neelakandan has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)