World Heart Day 2020: There has been a 10-20% surge in heart diseases from pre-COVID times in India — Here’s why

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  • India has witnessed a significant rise in cardiovascular diseases between 1990 and 2016.
  • So much that heart diseases and strokes were among the top reasons behind people’s death in the country.
  • There has been a notable increase in the patients reporting heart diseases after the pandemic.
  • However, doctors and healthcare experts in India are concerned about the delay in treatments, which may have fatal consequences.
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As India struggles to deal with COVID-19, another health problem might cripple the country’s busy health infrastructure — heart diseases.

There has been a notable increase in the patients reporting heart diseases after the pandemic. Reduced accessibility and patient fears of contagion are the leading reasons behind this. However, doctors and healthcare experts in India are concerned about the delay in treatments, which may have fatal consequences.

“Heart disease has marginally increased by 10 to 20% compared to pre-COVID-19, but patients are not coming forward due to scare except in an emergency. So there is a 25% decline in the number of patients reporting on time in Hospitals, said Dr DK Jhamb, Director & HOD, Cardiology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

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India has witnessed a significant rise in cardiovascular diseases between 1990 and 2016. So much that heart diseases and strokes were among the top reasons behind people’s death in the country. About 28.1% of deaths that occurred in India in 2016 were due to heart diseases and stroke. Experts now fear that these patients may not get the attention they deserve for proper treatment.

"Due to the many constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, many heart patients have had to postpone their follow up visits to their doctor. Importantly, advised elective cardiac procedures such as stenting, angiographies etc are suffering major delays, a cause of grave concern. During this time, the fatality rate in patients with cardiovascular diseases including heart failure also has been abnormally high at 10.5% as against 2.3% in the general population. This serious interruption in the continuum of care for heart patients can lead to severe criticalities and untimely deaths that could be prevented,” said Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, President, Council for Healthcare and Pharma.

According to doctors, the coronavirus restrictions laid down by the government have resulted in some unhealthy changes in people’s lifestyles, which might result in a cardiovascular problem.Stress, poor diet, and emotional turmoil are factors that could take a toll on the heart.

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“The psychological effects (loneliness, stress, anxiety, isolation, unemployment fear and economic burden) of the pandemic combined with other lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking, irregular eating habits, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity may increase cardiovascular problem cases during the pandemic,” Dr Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda.

Prevention is better than cure
Dr Chauhan advises people to practice yoga and pranayama to reduce stress levels. He also suggests a gentle head massage or full body massage to reduce the load on your heart.

“Eat well, regularly and healthily, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly at least for 15 to 20 minutes, use virtual methods of socialising,” suggest Dr. Mahesh Ghogare, Senior Cardiologist from Terna speciality Hospital & Research Centre.
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The need for a fit mind and healthy body is paramount, especially during this pandemic. And it is important that we adopt a healthy lifestyle and diet. People must ensure intake of a nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. An additional workout regime — even a short duration of 30 minutes — will go a long way in boosting your immunity and physical regimen.

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