. . . Risk factors and prevention
TO say more poor people succumb to non-communicable diseases as compared to the rich is not an understatement.
|One would wonder, why the co-relation? The disease is non-communicable, so how does it end up killing more poor people? Poverty stricken communities have little or limited health facilities, hence access to medical screening to the people living there is constrained and at times not available.|
Early detection is crucial in managing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Another important factor is the family history of a person and people coming from families with a high risk of CVD have to be monitored and if found in need get early treatment. Now poverty plays a negative role as poor people fail to get health monitoring as required. The WHO reports that CVD is a burden in low-to middle income countries. (LMICs) An interesting survey taken by the Cardiological Society of India in 2015 revealed that 60 percent of the people were unaware that they had hypertension.
“The total sample size was 74 520 in 24 states covering 100 cities with 7 500 volunteers and paramedics and the survey was done in 8 hours, of this number 33 percent of the people were found to be hypertensive and their ages ranged from 31 to 45 years,” the survey reported.
As seen above, the disease can no longer be said to be a burden for the aged as it used to be it is now reported even in the 30 age group. The survey found out that 60 percent of the people were not aware that they had hypertension (HTN).
Raised blood pressure is a risk and was attributed to 13 percent of global CVD deaths.
An avoidable risk was tobacco use. CVD deaths in relation to smoking were nine percent. Raised blood glucose stood at six percent, while physical inactivity was at par with the latter. Obesity was just one percent lower and this growing challenge can also be reduced or managed.
In a webnair by medical experts for health journalists, Prof Rishi Seth, Department of Cardiology at King George Medical University and Organising secretary of XI National Conference of Indian Society of Cardiology 2016 said the CVD burden in India was high.
“Poor access to health facilities led to late detection of CVD with raised blood pressure being a risk factor,” said Prof Seth.
Controlling the risk factors is hence emphasised if the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke are to be lowered.
“Access to primary health care which provides early detection and treatment for people at risk is poor in the low to middle income countries,” he added.
There was still a risk of uncontrolled blood pressure even for patients on medication for hypertension. It is estimated that one billion people have hypertension, a silent killer. HTN often has no warning signs or symptoms. An optimal blood pressure of less than 120/80mm HG is recommended. Speaking to Ms Lucilla Ncobo, who has been on HTN treatment for the past 10 years, she said she watches her diet strictly. There are times, however, that she has had to be hospitalised when the blood pressure rose to life-threatening levels.
“I have been on high blood treatment for ten years. There are however, times that I have been admitted into hospital when the blood pressure rose to life-threatening levels. My family has CVD history and my dad died of heart attack. My little sister once suffered a mild stroke that was attributed to HTN. We both observe a strict diet and take medication as prescribed,” said Ms Ncobo who urged people to get regularly checks for high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure is a silent killer and usually shows no signs with the exception when one has had a stroke or has even died,” she said. Having blood pressure checked in health centres is done for free and would advise that at least three times a year a person not at risk gets checked,” she pointed out.
For those who raised the risk factor of getting a CVD by tobacco use they can lower the risk by stopping the habit. During the webnair, it was emphasised that within two years of quitting smoking, the risk of a coronary heart disease is substantially reduced and within 15 years the risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker. Smoking may be pleasurable to those who do, but the risk far outweighs that with life-threatening consequence.