World Heart Day 2020: 80% Premature Deaths are avoidable yet heart disease kills 17.9 million each year

Updated: 29 September, 2020 14:08 IST | Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

This World Heart Day, Dr. Shirish Hiremath discusses heart failure warning signs, symptoms, causes, and more

Photo used for representationl purposes only. Pic/iStock
Photo used for representationl purposes only. Pic/iStock

World Heart Day is celebrated on 29 September every year. Launched by the World Heart Federation, the global campaign aims to unite and inspire communities and governments to take charge of their (heart) health. 

According to the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) account for 31% of all global deaths (17.9 million) every year making it the number one cause of death globally. These diseases primarily manifest as strokes and heart attacks which are triggered by behavioural factors such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and the harmful use of alcohol. Increased levels of blood sugar, obesity, and elevated blood glucose are all risk factors when it comes to heart health. It is important to note that atleast 80% of premature deaths from stroke and heart disease can be avoided if individuals take preventive action. 

 
 
 
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To get further clarity on the issue of heart health, we asked Dr. Shirish Hiremath, Director at Cath Lab Ruby Hall (Pune), to answer a few important questions about heart failure.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart has failed or already stopped working. It is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart gradually weakens over time and can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.  It is an extremely serious condition that requires medical care. Early diagnosis and treatment play the most important role here.

What are the common symptoms of Heart Failure?

While heart failure is a progressive disease, it can be managed if the patient gets correctly diagnosed and is treated in a timely manner. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to the signs and symptoms of Heart Failure. Some common symptoms of heart failure, that shouldn’t be confused with signs of old age or any other co-morbid disease, are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Shortness of breath when lying down
  • Constant fatigue or tiredness
  • Swelling in the ankles, legs, and abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden weight increase
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Frequency of urination

What are the risk factors and warning signs of Heart Failure?

There are several risk factor and warning signs which can lead to heart failure such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure/ Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Prior Heart attack
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Lung conditions
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Coronary artery disease

Over the last 5 years, have you observed an increase in incidence of CVDs?

Yes, there is a sizable increase in the total number of CVD patients due to a lot of factors such as sedentary lifestyle, constant increase of the stress level, health choices, and not maintaining a habit of physical exercise on a daily basis.

On average, out of the total number of CVD patients, what is the ratio/percentage of Heart Failure patients?

On average, more than 30% of CVD patients have heart failure.

What is the percentage of patients who come at an advanced stage of Heart Failure?

Many patients confuse symptoms of heart failure to be regular regression which is age-related. More than 25 percent come to know about heart failure at the time of their first hospitalization and then onwards many take appropriate treatment. Repeated hospitalization imposes a significant social and economic burden. Hence, identification and management of associated comorbid conditions and warning about the worsening of heart failure is essential.

What is the average age group which suffers from heart failure? Are only older (60+) people susceptible?

Heart failure normally happens to the elderly, above 60 years of age. However, in India, we have observed the early onset of heart ailments due to our lifestyle choices and spiking of stress level. Hence, there is a rising incidence in the younger population around 40 to 50 years of age.

With one of three heart failure patients dying within one year of diagnosis, the death rates are comparable to cancer. This brings to fore the urgent need to address the disease burden by raising mass awareness about the symptoms, risk factors, and the importance of early diagnosis.

What has been observed as the most common underlying cause of Heart Failure, amongst your patients?

Every month we attend over 100 patients of heart failure, most of whom have some pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

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First Published: 29 September, 2020 12:38 IST

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