World Heart Day: Quit tobacco for a health heart

Photo credit: World Heart Federation
World Heart Day, 29 September
Sixty-three per cent deaths are due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), among which heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are one of the major killers. The first WHO Global status report on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (April 2011) confirms that NCDs are the leading killer today, with 3 crores 61 lakh people dying from heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes in 2008. Nearly 80% of these deaths (equivalent to 2 crores 9 lakh people) occurred in poorer communities dispelling the myth that such conditions are mainly a problem of affluent societies.

“Heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) account for most NCD deaths, or 17 million people annually, followed by cancer (7.6 million), respiratory disease (4.2 million), and diabetes (1.3 million). These four groups of diseases account for around 80% of all NCD deaths, and share four common risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and poor diets” ” said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, WHO Director-General’s International Awardee 2005 and President-elect, Association of Surgeons of India (ASI).

“At least 80% of such premature deaths due to heart disease, strokes and type2 diabetes, and 40% of cancer deaths can be prevented through a healthy diet, regular exercise and tobacco control. All these measures cost next to nothing by way of financial investment. And yet the gains would be immense. What is needed is the will to lead a disease free life, by controlling our dietary habits, quitting tobacco, and avoiding a sedentary life style” said Prof Kant.

According to a lead study published in 'The Lancet' journal (April 2011 issue), the most urgent and immediate priority for public health is tobacco control. The Lancet proposes as a goal for 2040, a world essentially free from tobacco.