Children and women are at risk of heart disease too: Dr Rishi Sethi

World Heart Day, 29 September
Dr Rishi Sethi
Senior Cardiologist

This year’s World Heart Day (29 September) theme focusses on a life-course approach to the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) with a focus on women and children. "It is a myth that heart disease and stroke only affect older, male, rich populations. CVDs affect as many women as men however, their risk is seriously underestimated. In fact, heart disease is actually the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 3 female deaths: shockingly, that’s about one death per minute! It is vital that women learn the truth about their CVD risk and take action to protect themselves and their family" said Dr Rishi Sethi, Associate Professor, Department of Cardiology, King George's Medical University (KGMU).
CNS photo: Airport, 
Punta del Este, Uruguay 2010

Added Dr Rishi Sethi who was awarded the coveted Fellowship of American College of Cardiologists earlier this year: "Children are vulnerable too: the risk for CVDs can begin before birth during foetal development, and increase further during childhood with exposure to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and smoking. Children might suffer a double burden from heart disease and stroke. They may have to face the emotional consequences of seeing a loved one becoming ill, but they are also at risk of the physical consequences of heart disease and stroke. Modern society can expose children to risk factors such as diets with too few calories and high in “bad” fats and sugar; activities such as computer games that discourage physical activity; and in some countries, tobacco advertising that encourage tobacco use or environments filled with secondhand tobacco smoke."

Strengthening tobacco control is one of the evidence-based ways to reduce CVDs. But tobacco industry interference in public health policy has been recognized as the biggest obstacle in enforcing tobacco control laws. The tobacco industry interference has delayed, diluted and weakened enforcement of health laws. Dr Ehsaan Latif, Director Tobacco Control at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) said: "In countries where poverty is still a challenge, any donation by the tobacco industry is seen by the policy makers as a generous gift. These policy makers need to realize how the industry manipulates the system to interfere with public health policy and these ‘charitable donations’ only serve to open doors for the industry to expand their businesses, provide legitimacy to their actions and to block effective tobacco control policies. It is high time that governments in South East Asia adopt policies consistent with Article 5.3 of The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and look at taxation of tobacco products as a sustainable source for tobacco control not these insignificant donations to subvert tobacco control." A report of the Advocacy Training Workshop on WHO FCTC Article 5.3 organized in Balrampur Hospital on 7th September was also released today. This workshop was organized by Lucknow district and UP state units of National Tobacco Control Programme and Vote For Health campaign, CNS, Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT), Health Justice and Asha Parivar.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including heart disease and stroke, take lives prematurely. In fact, they cause 17.3 million deaths each year and the numbers are rising. By 2030, it is expected that 23 million people will die from CVDs annually – that is more than the population of Australia! The Intervention cardiology data compilation done by Dr Rishi Sethi revealed that over 4500 lifesaving angioplasty procedures and almost 2000 lifesaving pacemaker implantations have been performed in 2011-2012 in the state of UP. The number of these procedures has increased by almost 30% over the last year. The maximum number of procedures in the state is performed by doctors from SGPGIMS and KGMU (Lari Heart Centre), Lucknow.

Choosing healthy diets sans saturated or trans-fats, sugar and salts; opting for optimal physical exercise and staying away from addictions such as tobacco or excessive alcohol intake are some other ways to reduce one’s risk of CVDs, said Dr Rishi Sethi. Unhealthy diets are linked to four of the world's top 10 leading risk factors causing death. A heart-healthy diet which is rich in fruit and vegetables helps prevent heart disease and stroke.

Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service - CNS
September 2013

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