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Vice President Hamid Ansari for Comprehensive Approach to Combat Heart Disease

NEW DELHI: Vice President Hamid Ansari today strongly favoured the need to develop a comprehensive approach to combat heart disease in India which is “achieving epidemic proportions” with roughly 30 million heart patients and two lakh surgeries being performed annually.

“We would need a comprehensive approach to combat heart disease, with a focus on education and access to proper health facilities. For this, both the public and the private sectors have to work together,” Mr Ansari said while inaugurating the 11th world heart day event in New Delhi today.

The key challenges being faced in cardiac care in India are low availability of facilities, lack of accessibility, and limited affordability of effective and efficient treatment, coupled with lack of awareness towards non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular diseases, he said.

Mr Ansari said that demographic projections suggest a major increase in cardiovascular disease mortality as life expectancy increases and the age structure of the growing population changes.

Observing that of the 30 million heart patients in India, 14 million are in urban and 16 million in rural areas, he said, “if the current trend continues by the year 2020, the burden of atherothrombotic cardiovascular diseases in India will surpass other regions of the world.”

The growth of heart diseases is dependent on a number of interlinked factors such as ageing, changing lifestyles and food habits.

Rapidly evolving socio-economic determinants like access to healthcare, environmental stress and income levels also impact cardiovascular diseases’ risk factors, he said.

The growth of heart diseases affects not just the urban and economically well-off but also the under-privileged.

The Indian rural population and urban poor especially are facing a “double burden” – with incidences of acute diseases continuing, while there is a rapid growth in incidences of chronic diseases, he underlined.

“Today, cardiac hospitals in India perform over 2,00,000 open heart surgeries per year, one of the highest, worldwide.

There has been a steady annual rise to the tune of 25-30 per cent per year in the number of coronary interventions over the past several years.

“This suggests that the disease is now achieving epidemic proportions; it also shows that the accessibility of the population to advanced cardiac facilities is increasing,” he said.

Heart disease is now the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year, he said, adding, India has seen a rapid transition in its heart disease burden over the past couple of decades.

The load of communicable and non-communicable diseases, though, is projected to get reversed in 2020, he noted.

Listing out some of the government initiatives to combat the heart disease, he said the Parliament in 2003 had also passed the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act to further the cause of prevention of cardiovascular diseases.