Cardiovascular disease, endemic proportions in India…

Cardiovascular disease(CVD) is a broad term encompassing all disorders related to heart and the blood vessels which supply the entire body.

Heart = cardio            Blood Vessels = Vascular

Though one cannot prevent all forms of cardiovascular disease, one can certainly help prevent acquired conditions, i.e. for instance, HTN(Hypertension or elevated blood pressure) by exercising, eating heart healthy and not smoking).

Reportedly, cardiovascular disease is in endemic proportions in India, with the highest burden of CVD related deaths in the world.

In western countries where CVD is considered a disease of the aged, it is 52% in India affecting those under age 70. As a result, Indian subcontinent suffers from a tremendous loss of productive years due  to CVD related deaths. The high burden of CVD related deaths in India is a consequence of large population and high prevalence of CVD risk factors.

Urbanization has resulted in marked increase of  intake in energy dense foods,decrease in physical activity and increase in psychosocial stress, all of which has contributed to the development of Diabetes(elevated blood sugar), HTN(elevated blood pressure) and Dyslipidemia(elevated cholesterol), risk factors toward the development of CVD.

Kerala, who enjoys the best health indicators when it comes to fertility and infant mortality compared to the rest of the nation, unfortunately shares the same burden with the rest of the nation,when it comes to cardiovascular related morbidity and mortality.

In Kerala, cardiovascular deaths are about 56% of total deaths,affecting between the ages of 25 and 65.

In Kerala, every day, some 110 people die of myocardial infarctions(heart attacks). 80% of these deaths can be prevented by appropriate management and prevention strategies.

In Kerala, 36% of adults have diabetes by age 50.

In Kerala, one of three adults are hypertensive, most are unaware unless detected in a screening program.

In Kerala, 56 % of Indian male smokes between ages of 12 and 60.

HTN, Diabetes, Dyslipidemia, Tobacco use, Etoh consumption, Obestiy and family history are strong risk factors toward development of cardiovascular disease which can be prevented.

Starting at age 18 or even younger( for those with strong family history), following preventative measures are strongly recommended:

1. Blood Pressure screening (ideally should be less than 120/80)

2. Fasting Cholesterol Screening (ideally should be : Total Chol <200, HDL (good cholesterol >45, LDL(bad cholesterol) <100 and Triglycerides<150.

3. Fasting Blood Sugar screening (ideally between 70-100 mg/dL)

4. Eating heart healthy

* reduce salt intake ce (ideally <2grams/days if you have elevated BP)

* Fat content should be <30% of total calories intake/day

* Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, fiber and drink plenty of water

5. Excercise  at least 30mins/day of endurance excercise (i.e. walking,swimming,biking,aerobics),3-5x/week

6. Moderate alchohol consumption, i.e. one drink for Females and 2 drinks for males

7. No Smoking

8. Obesity, maintain BMI(body mass index) <30

9. Manage Stress with relaxation techniques, i.e. yoga,meditation

Making a daily practice of above preventative measures will help toward a healthy,long and fruitful life!

Consult with your family physician as to your risks and prevention management.

Welcome any queries or concerns…


  • I can relate. . I personally violate 6 out of the 9 points you ave listed here . . .have been walking for the past few days for exercise . .do you know any exercises we could do at home or so to burn cals?

  • Dear Anand,

    Starting an excercise program is a good start. Not sure what kind of home setting you have but here are a few suggestions:

    taking a brisk walk around the block for 30 mins in the morning or evening, walking up and down steps for 30 mins, consider getting a treadmill for your home and using it for 30mins 3-5x/week.

    Please note that you begin slow and increase your pace gradually particularly if you were a previously a couch potatoe, to avoid any cardiac or joint complications.