Heart ailments now at a young age

Heart graphic image used for reference

The average age at which persons experience a heart episode has reduced drastically in the last quarter of a century. Back in the 1990s, the typical age at which an adult was most likely to experience a heart episode was 50 years and by 2019 that age has reduced to 30 years.

According to the disease burden profile of Telangana State, prepared by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), in 2016, cardiovascular diseases accounted for 13.5 per cent of fatalities of youngsters who were aged between 15 years and 30 years and 38 per cent of the deaths in the age group of 40 years and 50 years.

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Between the age group of 15 years and 30 years, heart diseases were the second most common cause of deaths, after suicides, while for the age group of 40 years and above, heart ailments were the single most reason for deaths, the PHFI study said.

Heart disease

“People are simply unaware of the risk factors that trigger heart attacks, which can only be identified through examination. I believe that everyone in the country who has reached 25 years must undergo a physical. Many don’t know that in western countries such a check-up is done for individuals who are 18 years,” says senior interventional cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Somajiguda, Dr. K. Pramod Kumar.

The disease burden study of Telangana between 1990 and 2016 said that ischaemic heart diseases and brain strokes formed 60 per cent of the overall disease burden, a clear case for policy makers to specially focus on heart ailments and brain strokes, which to a large extent can be prevented through lifestyle changes.

The study said that in 2016, heart ailments and strokes were the main causes for most deaths and disability among both the sexes from 20 years onwards. The risk factors that were driving the most deaths and disability among men and women were high blood pressure, diabetes, erratic diet, alcohol and tobacco abuse and high cholesterol.

Interestingly, in 1990 the major risk factors that caused maximum fatalities in the State were malnutrition, air pollution, consumption of unsafe water, sanitation and lack of personal hygiene.

State faces NCD challenge

Apart from high burden of heart ailments, Telangana also has to contend with other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including chronic kidney diseases, cancers and trauma cases. The city also has a huge burden of diabetics, which will eventually lead to a higher number of kidney and heart patients. 

According to the disease burden study of PHFI and ICMR, in 2016-17, the number of kidney related ailments reported in the State was almost 90,000 cases. Similarly, based on the official health statistics available, the public health machinery had received 67,500 cases of cancer in 2016-17. The heart ailment cases that were handled at State-run hospitals in the last one-year hovered between 22,000 and 30,000.

Given an ever-increasing number of patients with NCDs, the State is also incurring an ever increasing expenditure in treating the patients. In 2016-17, the State government has incurred expenditure of Rs 750 crore to treat NCDs through Aarogyasri. The number of therapies related to NCDs that were approved under the healthcare scheme for patients in Telangana was 2,80,510.

When compared to the last two years, between 2014 and 2016, the government has spent 10 percent more, in terms of the amount paid for each procedure. In 2015-16, the health authorities under Arogyasri had incurred an expenditure of  Rs 680 crore and for 2016-17, the expenditure was Rs 750 crore. In 2015-16, the number of approved therapies related to the treatment of NCDs in the State was 2,58, 838.

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